The referendum on the UK membership of the European Union resulted in a ‘Leave’ vote.
Personally, I am very sad. I know that there are others who see this day as a positive step. The challenge is how shall we pull together now to make something robust, positive and helpful from the situation we have arrived at.
The question on many people’s lips is: What happens now?
The truth is that we don’t know and cannot know. We are in uncharted waters and really have little idea of how we shall land.
As Chair of the Bristol Multi-Faith Forum, I have attended a meeting with the Mayor. Present were business leaders, local and national politicians, educationalists from the city’s Universities, and people representing the voluntary sector. The atmosphere was heavy and the conversation recognized that the challenge ahead of us is huge. There is some serious work to be done together as we face the future.
‘Together’ is, I think, the vital word here.
The referendum and the debate before it have uncovered some deeply troubling issues in our country. Issues that we will need to address together.
Bristol is a city that takes great pride in itself as lively, vibrant, multi-cultural, outward-looking and internationally involved. An identity we have found and developed together over years of careful work and shared hopes … and a life we enjoy together. In these uncertain times, it will be a long story of being a city that embraces diversity and is determined to hold on to that sense of everyone having a stake in our common good, that will help us deal with what comes next.
The faith communities of Bristol are well established and resourceful parts of the mix of the life of the city. As faith communities we know about taking the long view, we have experience of holding on to the hope of something good coming beyond the testing times and we have trust in the strength of community. In the ‘multi-faith’ work we have developed over the years we have found great strength in building good relationships between ordinary people so that when the testing times come we have robust friendship and the resources of a diverse community to bring to our search for solutions and the way ahead. As people of the faith communities, we have resources and experience to offer into the debates and the aspirations of the wider community at this time. There will be a need for healing, for the rebuilding of trust and cooperation and for hope. We can travel this road together.
We are where we are today … and we are still in the great city of Bristol. In our faith communities and in wider society let us be committed to the shared, common good so that together we might find strength and opportunities for our peaceful shared life in this country and as global citizens.
Chair of Bristol Multi-Faith Forum.