Lection Connection

October 11, 2020: Living as a Liberation Community

From Fraser Macnaughton
In a world that currently prefers to build walls rather than bridges, the people of Switzerland have bucked the nationalistic and xenophobic trend in a recent referendum. The largest party in the Swiss parliament, the right-wing, anti-immigration Swiss People’s party (SVP), called the referendum, arguing that the country must be allowed to set its own limit on the number of foreigners coming in to work. However, Swiss voters resoundingly rejected an attempt to tear up the country’s agreement with the European Union on the free movement of people, in a referendum that echoed the Brexit vote in the UK.
Perhaps the Swiss, seeing the discord that that process has created in the UK were echoing the words of voter Yann Grote in Geneva, who said he didn’t approve of further limiting freedom of movement. “I’m not at all in favour, and even more now, because it’s not a time to isolate Switzerland.”
The right-wing SVP argued that the country was facing excessive immigration leading to increased living and housing costs for Swiss nationals, and putting a serious strain on health and transport services, echoing a familiar narrative of right-wing parties across the globe. 
However, one of the major factors in the referendum decision was what might have happened to Switzerland’s unique relationship with the EU, whose people account for one quarter of Switzerland’s population. At the same time, nearly half a million Swiss live in the EU. Clearly, the uncertainty surrounding the large numbers of UK citizens living in the EU and vice versa, due to Brexit, weighed heavily on the minds of the Swiss. Another voter, Elisabeth Lopes, said, “I’m a daughter of immigrants, so it is a matter that touches me. If Switzerland had to withdraw or reduce these agreements [with the EU], I think we would be the real losers.”
Switzerland has a very distinct political system, revolving around its cantons or states. With French, German, and Italian being the official languages, there are different cultural influences at play through its politics. It’s stability has in some part been due to the system of referenda that the Swiss are very keen on, which range from major issues such as described above, to examples such as the right to hunt wolves to keep their population down. A good example of living as a liberation community?
Explore…Exodus 32:1–14
  • To what extent does a system of public referenda as a central plank of government illustrate the worth of being a liberation community?
  • Reading through the stories of the Hebrew people. What ways of governance might have improved their social cohesion?
  • To what extent do you think the church should be in the centre of political and economic systems, as opposed to being on the margins?
May we be people who remain suspicious of the fruits of the established system, lest we come to resist any truth beyond our comfort zone. May we always long and thirst for the coming of the Kingdom, for something more…for real liberation.
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