The country has had a turbulent week. The police have reported that there has been a 57% increase in hate crime complaints in the four days following the referendum. Many Faith Leaders have spoken out against racism. Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has stated that people of ‘evil will’ were using the referendum result as an excuse to vent their hatred. What can communities do? How do we come together against xenophobia regardless of how we voted? And do the Arts have anything to contribute in the process? Mandy Carr offers a resource to use in the wake of Brexit.
It has been shocking to see in the news and social media the casual and vicious racism that has come to the surface in the wake of the referendum. Property has been destroyed or defaced, people have been intimidated through leaflets, T-Shirts, and verbal abuse. Many are afraid for their safety and fearful of the future. This is not Britain at its greatest.
Most Brexit voters would be horrified with this response. This is not what they voted for when they put an X on their ballot paper to leave. Immigration is a live issue in this country but not one that justifies a racist backlash of the sort that has been witnessed in the last week. It is something that we should stand together on, regardless of whether we voted Brexit or Remain.
We are a divided country. The closeness of the result illustrates this and is further exemplified by other factors like the age profile for each camp. Even in our small community I have seen some overjoyed by the result and others in tears. How do we draw people together without rushing to paper over the chasm in a crass and superficial way? How do we stand together against the evils of racism while allowing others to hold sincerely-held political views that may be very different from ours? Political, Religious and Community Leaders are attempting to find a way forward and people of faith have a particular contribution in praying for our nation. Below is a prayer resource that can be used for working our way through these difficulties. The prayers can be used separately or alongside the film Jericho Way that is embedded in this blog.
Jericho Way (2014) is a 25 minute film made as a voluntary community project. It is a contemporary retelling of the story of The Good Samaritan using the context of immigration. In 2014 when it was made, it felt current. Now it feels chillingly so. I would like to thank the cast and crew, and David Doré from Silk Purse Films for working on this project with me. I don’t think that anyone would have realised how relevant it would be within a couple of years.
My hope is that the film will allow us to engage with some of the issues in our society in a more tangible way. The Arts can tell the story from a different angle and in doing so, exert an influence that can speak truth in a world of misinformation. At its best, this kind of influence may lead to a change of direction; a freeing up when we’ve got stuck, or even a new vision. The Arts also pose questions, present ambiguities, and confront us with a story that is bigger than just ours. I’m not suggesting that Jericho Way will do all these things but I hope that it will enable us to ponder and pray in a way that brings hope at a time when we desperately need it.