Originally published in the King’s Stanley Magazine.
Picture a seesaw. It reminds us of balance, ups and downs, fun and enjoyment, and also the nursery rhyme.
But recently someone had the idea of putting some seesaws through the border fence between Mexico and the USA. It was meant as a protest about the poor treatment of children who are would-be immigrants from Mexico. The photo I saw on the Internet featured two children on opposite ends of the seesaw and therefore on opposite sides of the border.
The architect and anti-border-wall campaigner Ronald Rael had installed three pink seesaws on the US-Mexico border to allow families on each side to “meaningfully connect” with each other and to highlight the bond between the two countries. Rael says the seesaws have turned the wall into a “literal fulcrum for US-Mexico relations.”
I then looked at the comments people had made about the photograph and found that whilst most of them were positive, others mocked the idea of this being worthwhile.
This reminded me firstly that this is a divisive issue about which people have strong feelings. Secondly, that we continually interpret events, happenings, and words, both spoken and written. And, thirdly, that we have our own extremely divisive political issue here in the UK that has been dragging on for over three years: Brexit.
The nation is divided over this issue as if on a seesaw, almost balanced, but both sides are frustrated by not being able to “touch down” with the other side in the air.
For various reasons, I am unable to comment more directly on this. After all, many believe religion and politics do not mix.
Obliquely, however, I might point out that we have recently had the 80th Anniversary of the Kindertransport rescue programme which, between November 1938 and September 1939, saved approximately 10,000 mostly Jewish children by bringing them from Nazi Germany and Nazi-occupied Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland to Britain.
Think of all the good things that those immigrants have contributed to their adopted country.
The 3rd of September will also see the 80th Anniversary of the start of World War 2. We have largely forgotten that our country was by no means united about the way forward in the early months of that war. A good number thought Britain should try to reach a peace settlement with Germany but Churchill eventually managed to unite the country against a common enemy.
The present crisis calls for a balanced way forward and an effort from both sides not to see those who hold a different opinion as “the enemy.” Meanwhile we can but “watch and pray,” seek to do the best for the children, and continue to interpret political events.
Inevitably, this is a weak ending to this letter, as our national crisis continues to divide and the “see” continues to “saw.”
Robert Draycott (Rev)