Edit : The UK election has been and gone, Christmas has happened we are in 2020. Brexit now looks like an inevitability. What will be the cost of ignoring a majority of young adults? See below . . .
I’m hesitant about writing anything about politics – right now, in the UK, it can quickly turn toxic with entrenched views about Brexit and “getting it done” or, voting tactically in the upcoming general election – holding your nose if required, to “get it stopped”.
We are in a mess.
I don’t know whether sitting down and having a cup of tea will sort that out – it is a British thing to do, everything and anything can be resolved over a nice brew. However, there is a generational divide – I wish it was only about the beverage of choice while we all talk it out.
Two things :
70% of 18-24 year olds who voted in the EU Referendum wanted to Remain – compared with 60% of over 65s who voted, wanting to Leave. However, those were balmy, happier times – we have become increasingly polarised on the issue as time has passed and we STILL haven’t left. A poll last year suggested that were there another vote, 82% of 18-24 year olds would now vote to Remain, while over 65s would have two thirds voting Leave. [How Would People Vote Now Article].
Even more starkly – if that were possible – the voting intentions generally of different age groups put young and old – literally – polls apart (sorry for the pun). If only 18-24 year olds were voting, the Tories would not win a single seat. Not one. Labour would have 66% of the vote. However, if only over 65s voted – 62% would vote for the Tories. [Election Map – Political Divide Article].
We are in a mess.
When I think of the Church of England, and its own demographic (average age 61), they have a far larger proportion of over 65s than any other age group. Just 2% of 18-24 year olds would identify themselves with the Church of England, more than 4 times as many, 9%, said they belonged to the Church of England 16 year ago. [Heading for Oblivion Article].
What does this have to do with the Gospel? I’m reminded of this quote from Albert Einstein,
True Religion is Real Living; Living with all one’s soul,
With all one’s goodness and righteousness
A whole gospel encompasses all we see before us and around us – all that this generation of young adults see. What is the story we have been telling ourselves that has created this yawning chasm? What is the story young people are telling and living that has brought them to such different conclusions about our place in the world as a nation and who would better serve us as the party of Government.
We can’t ignore this.
Where is the dialogue taking place between the generations that seeks to address some of the themes of poverty, injustice, wealth and privilege – Labour’s slogan, “for the many, not the few” seems to have resonated with younger adults. What is the majority of the church, who are – for the most part – significantly older doing to understand and engage?
It has been more than disheartening to read tweets from Greta Thunburg getting absolutely roasted by – lets say it – old white men. The attacks are personal and vicious. The attacks seek to belittle her, after all what can she know – she hasn’t lived, she is just a young person.
The thing is – if this generation of young people attach whatever faith they might have to that whole life picture Einstein talks about then we are in real trouble. This generation of young people are interpreting Jesus’ words and actions in a completely different way to the generations that have gone before.
I’m not providing any answers here, I’m just saying – I’m not sure a majority of the church is paying attention.
We are in a mess.