I was listening to some comments on Women’s Hour on Radio 4 yesterday about Brexit. What I noticed was that people seemed to see being about to go to and fro in Europe as a right. EG – it is my right that my elderly parents should be able to live in Greece and then be able to fly back to UK for treatment as and when they like; it is my right that I can live in France when I want to retire and still get my pension from UK and be able to vote even though I have not been in the country for 17 years; it is my right that as a European I should be able to live in England for as long as I like and not have to worry about visas, etc; and so it seemed to go on.
I think we often get confused and for get that things are for a period of time. Have you ever tried getting in to the USA? A very different story. But people don’t see it as a right to be able to come and go into the USA as they please, even though it until two hundred or so years ago it was part of Britain. It is seen as a privilege to be able to live and work there, as it is in many other countries.
I am not saying whether I am a leave or remain person but what I am saying is that for the last forty years or so I have had the privilege of coming and going into Europe to live, work, holiday as I have wanted with no hassle. Once in Europe, for a long time now, the currency has been the same so I will not starve if I cross borders after the banks have closed. [Yes one time I nearly starved in Belgium because we got stuck there, between France and Holland on a weekend!!] I see this as a privilege.
I wonder if we saw the last few years of being part of Europe as a privilege for a season whether we could enter the debate with a different heart? If I see something as my right I get upset if it is taken away. If I see something as a privilege to enjoy for a period of time then even if I am sad when it goes I have not held it so tightly.
On reading Dan Held Evan’s quote after his wife Rachel died suddenly at 37 it read as if, even though his grieve was huge, he still held his time with her as a privilege he had enjoy and as a right that should never be taken from him. There is a lovely man in our church who was married to his wife for just over 59 years before she died of cancer who, even though his grief is open and he often cried in church, says he still looks at the time they had together as a privilege to cherish.
I believe we cherish privileges but cling to rights.