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To Brexit or not to Brexit – that isn’t the question

In which Jill gets all philosophical about the meaning of life

Three quarters of Mollymawk‘s crew have just returned from a flying visit to our homeland. Flying is something that we don’t like to do – partly for reasons of financial expense, and partly because of the cost in environmental terms – but Roxanne needed to be in England so that she could sit her GCSE (school) exams, and I felt that it was time I saw my parents again.
Of course, the big news from England during this past fortnight has been the so-called Brexit referendum. Had we been drifting about on the ocean when it took place then we might have remained unmoved by this extraordinary débâcle – but only for so long as we remained out there. As it was, we were swept along on the current of events like a yacht struggling through heavy seas, and the final outcome was like a rogue wave smashing down on our vessel. Even two weeks afterwards, I still feel overwhelmed; I still feel devastated. The worst may be yet to come, but even as the matter stands we now seem to be bereft of mast and sails.
Twisting the analogy somewhat, I might point out that it is mutinous crew who have wilfully cut the rig down.

I need hardly go into the details of this ridiculous but none-the-less consequential disaster, for the news has been spread right around the world. Everyone knows about Cameron, the pig-fancying buffoon, and Farage, the insane-seeming racist. Everyone knows about the lies which were told by Farage’s ally and one-time college chum, Boris Johnson – blatant lies told in order to seduce those people whose primary means of education is an Australian-owned newspaper.
Suffice it to say that all aboard Mollymawk were firmly in the Remain camp, not only because it seemed to us to be a vote for continuing peace and concord but also because we had no wish to ally ourselves with people screaming for immigrant blood.
Likewise, whilst we honestly don’t know whether the British economy would be better off in or out of Europe, we noted that almost every financial expert predicted doom and gloom in the event that the nation severed her ties.
More to the point, whilst we are aware that the EU is far from perfect, we see it as a starting point for something better. And you can’t change the rules of the club if you aren’t a member.
Finally – and most important of all – one can’t help noticing that the imperfect legislation which the EU brings into being has, nevertheless, often served to put a brake on the British government’s excesses. Britain has a very bad record when it comes to renewable energy – she creates less than most other countries in the EU, ranking 21st out of the 28 – and yet our government has long sought to wriggle out of obeying laws which promote ‘renewables’.  Despite what the Leave campaigners led us to believe, very rarely has Cameron’s will been thwarted and laws passed despite his opposition; and on each occasion when he lost out, it was over matters relating to the environment or energy.

On Friday 23rd June we awoke, read the news, and were amongst the 48% who felt their world turn turtle. 48%, plus – because it was soon apparent that many who voted Leave had done so “as a protest”.
And then there were the large numbers of students and other young people who hadn’t bothered voting, since they assumed that their parents and grand-parents could be trusted to do the sensible thing…
And there were the hundreds of thousands who have lived in Britain for decades but who never previously deemed it necessary to acquire British status and the rights which go with it.
And there were the British citizens resident overseas whose postal ballot forms failed to show up. (They’re currently pursuing legal action.)
Add this lot together and you begin to see why well over half the population of Britain were in shock on that Friday morning, and why there was such a wailing and a gnashing of teeth.

In view of all this, why has the narrow margin of 1.8% been accepted as the “will of the people” and the rule of democratic law?
 Many of us are asking that question. The captain has abandoned his command; Farage and the other rats have fled the sinking ship; no one seems to have any idea what to do – so why don’t they just put us back on course? If they did, there would surely be nationwide and European-wide rejoicing!
But that is not the point of this article.

Shortly before the referendum I wrote to a friend who is a Buddhist monk. I wanted to know whether monks vote, and he told me that they don’t. Buddhist monks and nuns remain aloof from the affairs of the world, their minds entirely detached from the antics of what is known as Samsara.
In response, I told the monk that I felt that it was important that we do our part to ensure that Britain remains in Europe, since leaving would obviously mean division and suffering and could even lead to war. However, I assured him confidently, regardless of the outcome, as soon as the result was known and I could have no more effect on proceedings, I would let it all go. I would detach, and go back to the business of pursuing equanimity of mind.
But, as this article proves, I haven’t.

I haven’t let go. Rather, I’ve let the chaos sweep through me. Indeed, I cannot recall any previous occasion in my life when I have been so thoroughly disrupted in my emotions. Examining the matter, I see that my entire identity as a European and as a xenophile is at stake.
“Not in my name!” cries my heart, as I read of the racist remarks flung at immigrants settled in Britain.
I am a helpless member of a society which is rushing to embrace fascism, and I feel as if I were an innocent passenger aboard a plane which has been hijacked.
Suddenly I understand how the vast majority of German citizens must have felt when Hitler came to power. And understanding that – and having regard for what happened next; bearing in mind the way in which that once right-minded majority were subsumed by the Gestapo mentality – I quake.

But hold on a minute. This identity stuff – it’s exactly the sort of thing that the Buddhist gurus warn us about. If I’m simply concerned about my self image then, obviously, I’m still attached to a Self; and the Self is the thing that I’m supposed to be undermining in order to gain liberation.
Since my particular Self, or ego, isn’t interested in looking good or in trying to impress other people, I’d thought that it wasn’t very big – but, hey, just look at it insisting that it isn’t part of this ethnic cleansing mind-set! Just look at it rising up in righteous indignation when I read about attacks on Poles! 

My Self is a construction formed of genetic traits and learned habits; my Self is a dance of thoughts and ideas; a pattern of energy…. Yeah, yeah – it’s all of that and nothing more.
But it’s a nice Self, right? It doesn’t do racism, and it harbours feelings of generosity. It wants to try to stop the suffering that this event seems bound to bring about.
“Seems”… Maybe that’s the key word.

Monks minding their own minds

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, and just detach from them, like a Buddhist monk… or to take arms, as it were, and fight the good fight. Whether to detach and get on with life, or to try to sort out the problem – that is the question.

57 years ago, after having sat in detachment, the leader of the Tibetan people was forced to flee from his homeland ahead of a Communist invasion. And ever since then, he’s had the leisure to repent of his detached equanimity and has been working to liberate his country from the oppressor.
 Meanwhile, some fifty years ago, a Vietnamese monk by the name of Thich Nhat Hahn fled his country, partly in order to avoid assassination by another Communist force but also in order to be able to work as an activist in the fight against war.
So, monks do ‘attach’, when they have to; and my question is, when?
When does a monk get involved with Samsara and get to grips with suffering?
How bad does it have to be? And wouldn’t it be better if he got involved before it got very bad?

Suffering, it should be understood, is the corner-stone of Buddhism.  Suffering is the inevitable consequence of birth, and the only way to escape from it is to break through the delusion of Self and thereby attain Nibbana (Nirvana). The Buddha-Dhamma talks quite a lot about compassion and love for our fellow beings, but the primary object of the teachings is to end suffering in our own lives. Nowhere, so far as I have been able to discover, does the Buddha talk about ending other people’s suffering by intervening.
I find this very relevant.

According to the Buddha, we are all responsible for what we say and do, and he urges us to check before, during, and after we speak or act, in order to ensure that we have not inadvertently brought suffering either to ourself or to anyone else. But nowhere, so far as I can discover, does he tell us to interfere in other people’s doings. The underlying attitude is one of harmlessness rather than of helpfulness.
For a man who identified the Self, or ego, as the source of all suffering and who advocated relinquishing its cravings, the Buddha comes across as remarkably selfish! In the quest for enlightenment he abandoned his wife and his newborn child; and he later encouraged another man to do the same. Although he taught that his lay followers should be generous, this was not so much for the benefit of the needy as with the object of winning Brownie points for the donor – Brownie points, and the feel good buzz which accompanies such open-heartedness.
That apart, the Buddha’s teachings are largely devoted to developing the citta-viveka, or unattached heart-mind, which simply shrugs off the follies of the world. When asked for advice regarding lay activities, the Buddha always obliged – he had teachings for everyone from the humblest peasant through to the loftiest king – but at no point that I can recall do we find him encouraging his followers to go around stopping wars or promoting one politician or ruler over another.
Now, why would that be?
 Well, I guess it’s partly on account of this ‘selfishness’ which is the best way to get to grips with the Self – it’s partly because Self-watching and detachment from the world is the only way to advance – but I wonder if it might also have something to do with that little word, “seems”.

It seems to me that Britain should remain part of the fraternity which is Europe, because it seems to me that this course offers the best chance for the environment.
It also seems to me that leaving the EU will open the doors to fascism; and it seems to me that workers’ rights will be better protected in the EU.
It seems to me that if we leave the EU then travellers such as myself will be greatly inconvenienced. (In the case of the Mollymawks, it will probably mean that we can’t hang out in French Polynesia for more than a few weeks, whereas EU citizens can remain there indefinitely; and Britons travelling in Europe will be even more affected.)
All things considered – and having weighed the arguments for and against – it seems to me that Britain should Remain in the EU.
But maybe I’m wrong.

And while I chew my mind apart, worrying over the whys and wherefores, and while I stir up my heart and agitate others to do likewise, I’ve set aside mindfulness and equanimity and strayed from the Buddha’s Noble Path.
Perhaps, in any case, it will all turn out to be much ado about nothing. Perhaps it’s just a ploy by the elite and powerful to make more money, or a ploy by the demons and devas infesting my mind to test my ability to renounce grasping….
Then again, perhaps historians will look back on Brexit as the trigger for World War III and the apocalypse, and my friend the monk, will go down in flames.
In which case… he still won’t be moved.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the Captain, the Mate, the Ship’s Scientist, or the Dog.


We apologise for this departure from our usual theme of having as much fun as possible.
Normal service will be resumed next week.

11 Comments

  1. C.Hamilton, Dr.

    Jill, yu have really disappointed me with such a posting. Why go so political? It also demonstates a massive failure to understand the situation. You are also selectively ignoring the will of the majority of the people.
    Is controlling immigration racist? Of course not. If you really understood the situation as you allege you would not have written what you have. The intent is to control immigration and not stop it. Last year over half a million people moved into Britain. Have you considered the impact on housing and jobs? It has been ably demonstrated that >75% of these immigrants are working at the lower end of the labour market. There is significant resentment amongst the indiginous population as the immigrants are prepared to work below minimum wage levels and thereby depriving the locals of opportities.
    This immigration cannot be controlled as its within fortress Europe. By controlling immigration, such as is the case in Australia, Canada, USA, New Zealand etc etc (and you dont call them racists names) Britain can be function on a global basis and select people from anywhere in the world that shall fulfill national gaps. Perhaps YOU are the racist by denying people from outside Europe this possibility? Who is going to contribute more to the UK – 2,000 labourers from Eastern Europe or 200 doctors from India?
    You have also elected to ignore the financial blackhole that Britain pours cash into every day. Britain pays an excess of £35m per day into EU. Think how that could be better used. As for the environment, Britain could easily be able to function better outside the EU and contribute more. How do you consider the fact that Britain’s fishing industry is being decimated by Spanish fishermen whilst the UK fishing industry is denied access to its own waters? That fish stocks are being depleted and exploited as the Spanish will not allow their catch quota’s to be monitored?
    Your posting is so ill advised as to beggar believe……….and your Marxist/socialist views detract from the subject matter. It proves you fail to understand that Brexit was far more than politics – you are obviously unaware that Labour strong holds were instrumental in the leave vote; it was the stong vote from the Left that made the decision.
    Is it too much to ask that people consider Britain is better positioned trading globally than within a ‘small’ European market only that is always inwards looking? That immigration can welcomed on a global basis whereby the immigrants contribute to the economy rather than simply wailing racist? That British money can be used by the elected and accountable UK government as it deems fit rather than by an unelected EU parliament who are wholly unaccountable and whom do not allow auditing of the accounts? All facts that even a champagne socialist such as yourself can surely grasp. If you are such a strong believer in socialism, sell your boat, donate the funds to the third world and go and do social work in North Korea. That shall last 5 minutes when reality kicks in.

    1. Wow!
      Well, I think that response pretty much demonstrates what I was trying to say!
      
The opinions expressed in Chris’ comment are so different from my own, and come across – to me – as being so irrational, that at first I thought they must be from a troll!
      First there is the reiteration of ‘facts’ reported by Farage and Johnson – facts such as the one regarding Britain’s contribution to the EU, which has since been discredited as an outright lie. Then there’s the denial over the provocatively racist manner in which the Leave campaign was conducted; and finally, there’s the complete misapprehension of my own pseudo-political outlook (not to mention the apparent misconception regarding the value of our boat…) – but, BUT, BUT! – that’s not even the fundamental point!
      The fundamental point is that this was not a political article.

      This article was about detachment and its whys and wherefores; and Chris’ reasoned and passionate comment providing, as it does, a perfect contrast to my own reasoned and passionate view, is a perfect example of why “seems” is not good enough, and why detachment might therefore be the better state.
      Our difference of opinion is a perfect demonstration of why we’re never going to be able to build a perfect world; because beauty, and perfection, and the means to achieve it, are in the eyes of the beholder.
      Funnily enough, it’s a thing that I’d been thinking about anyway. After we’d posted the article it occurred to me that perhaps my own views – my own compassion-based response to the situation, and my own conclusions – would not in any case be echoed by my friend the monk. Perhaps his reasoning and his compassion would have led him to a different conclusion; perhaps if he had voted, he would have voted to leave!

      Am I able to accept that possibility? Am I able to acknowledge that somebody whom I admire and respect could have arrived at a different conclusion, or would that difference undermine my respect and admiration? Would I be able to accept the difference of opinion without labelling the man (at the very least) a bit stupid or misled?
Reflecting on things, one becomes aware that this tendency which we all have to label people according to their viewpoints (agrees with me = clever or good; against me = stupid or bad) is one of the fundamental problems with mankind. It is the primary cause for dispute and war.

      More significantly in the context of this conversation, it is a vivid manifestation of aversion and, as such, an enemy of awakening to the Truth about who and what we actually are.

      So – in view of the fairly awesome significance of the problem that we’ve turned up, I think it’s worth delving a little deeper. A lot deeper, indeed. After all, if we could bring our minds to bear on this issue and get to the bottom of things, we might actually put an end to war…!

      Fundamentally, Chris and I both want the same thing: We want a nice safe country where everyone can live in peace. We want well-run hospitals where no one has to queue; and we want the countryside to be left intact – although our opinions regarding the nuances of this intactness might differ widely. Most important of all, perhaps, we want everyone in Britain to have a roof of their own over their heads; and we require that they have enough money to be able to eat well; and when all the bills are paid we’d like them to have enough ‘disposable income’ left over to be able to buy whatever stuff they think they need to get hold of some happiness.
      We’re both very dissatisfied with the current state of affairs – pretty much everybody, everywhere in the world, is always dissatisfied with the current state of political affairs – and we’d like to change things. But we have entirely different ideas regarding who seems to be to blame for the current mess. Essentially, Chris blames the EU whereas I blame human greed and the string of corrupt British governments which have allowed the imposition of austerity for the benefit of the already-rich.
      (As a matter of interest, did you know that in this past fortnight, while the pound falls and food prices rise, people who own shares have actually got richer?)

      The fundamental problem is that, whatever we do, the world will never be perfect.
      For as long as we remain in a state of ignorance as to our true nature – for as long as we allow ourselves to be propelled along by the twin opposites of greed and aversion – we will never be happy. We will always be unsatisfied.
      Being unsatisfied is our basic human nature, and it’s one of the few things that we all have in common.
      Think about it: When you talk to someone who’s very rich, do they ever say, “I’ve got everything I need. I’m happy now”?
      On the contrary. In my experience it is people who have very little who are closest to being content – peasants, living in a rural setting, who have not yet been exposed to the possibility of a higher standard of living; and monks who have consciously decided to abandon a higher standard of living – these are the ones who seem happiest. Meanwhile, I have more than once met extremely rich people – people who own several houses, various boats, a private jet, and the money to do whatever they want – and been told, “I’m not actually happy, Jill. I wish I could live like you do.”
Is this an argument in favour of poverty? No! I’m only pointing out that happiness is evidently very elusive. Perhaps we’re looking for it in the wrong place…
      If the people in the 5th richest economy in the world weren’t happy, something is evidently very wrong. Certainly, the wealth is far from being evenly or fairly distributed; but even if it were, would we all suddenly be happy?
      Perhaps we need to look elsewhere for a solution to our dissatisfaction.

      The world, and our society, is in a constant state of flux. We’re on a wild roller-coaster ride. History depicts an endless series of highs and lows. We’re just tumbling down from a high, and who knows when there will next be revolution or war?
On the one hand, we ought surely to be doing everything that we can to prevent such a nightmare – but what can we do when even reasonable people, motivated by the desire to improve the world, are driven along by such different arguments and follow such different ‘seems’?
      Fundamentally, Chris and I want the same outcome but we’re fighting for it from different camps.
      So, how can that possibly work?

      We want the same thing, but we’ve both been led by our own imperfect reasoning into backing one or other extreme. And the silliest thing of all is that, had the experiences and kammic inputs to this Self of mine been just a little bit different, I would be reciting the words that he now uses. And vice versa.

      We’re all just an intricate choreography of atoms, organising and organised by a fantastically complex set of inter-related apps. We’re all just soap bubbles. We’re all just spouting a load of hot air.
      And it is that, rather than any political viewpoint, which is the true subject of this article.

      At the heart of the problem lie two matters. One is that what seems to be best may actually not be best – and this problem is irresolvable because we lack the ability to see into the future and follow the implications of our moves.
      The other little matter is our attachment to Self.
      So long as we are still operating according to the whims of desire and aversion – those two dictators which cause us either to grasp at something or to want to shove it way or destroy it – we are actually a part of the problem that we seek to resolve.
      In order to advance as a society we need to be able to stand back from our emotions and our excited reasonings; and in order to be able to do this as a society, we need to be able to do it as individuals.
      We need mindfulness – which is to say that we need to be constantly observant of our thoughts and our emotions until, eventually, we attain a state where we can see that they are just the chain-reaction product of our personal blue-print; until we can see that they are not ‘self’ so much as just the inevitable knee-jerk reaction to a given in-put.

      I’m not explaining this very well, because I haven’t yet reached this state of mind – or at any rate, not full time; but my friend the monk evidently has. And if he hasn’t managed to keep it going full time, he has at least seen its value and learnt that detachment and equanimity are the way out of suffering.

  2. “We are aware that the EU is far from perfect but see it as a starting point for something better, you can’t change the rules of the club if you aren’t a member. Why has the narrow margin of 1.8% been accepted as the will of the people…”

    Well said, strange times indeed!

  3. I’m afraid your starting point for this article reveals a lack of insight and understanding about the fundamentals driving both sides of this debate. Perhaps that is only to be expected when you are absent from the UK so much and can therefore only receive your news and information through one form of filtered channel or another.

    Unfortunately the whole debate generates fierce emotions amongst people as it seems to strike at the core of their own honestly held set of personal values. Indeed you have clearly demonstrated your own personal bias from the outset.

    The facts however are complex, poorly reported and often contradictory. To characterise the debate as a battle between personal and corporate greed versus a political framework that works for the good of the earth and the population as a whole is naive in the extreme.

    We can fantasise as much as we like about a world where every individual is mindful of the needs of society as a whole and able to make rational decisions accordingly, but that will never happen. Nature has not wired us up that way.

  4. The situation in Britain with our 10 year membership has lead to obfuscation being the default response from a devalued and impotent political class. We are now ruled over by x2 political & law making bureaucracys.

    Just read about IPP sentencing to demonstrate how detached, unaccountable bureaucratic systems can lead to Kafkaesque situations that the most vulnerable of our society are unable to challenge.

    http://www.insidetime.org/life-in-prison-for-breaking-a-sink/

    You could not make it up, Kafka would be impressed.

    We have a political class adverse to negative press & social media backlashes…

    As well as a public sector services (probation, Cafcass, social services) that do not want to sign off or make a judgement call that could leave them responsible. Its Baby P all over again and is endemic in austerity Britain.

    The poorer of our society feel it more keenly than those insulated by money and higher social status.

    Go north of Luton and the reality of Austerity Britain is shocking.

  5. Jill,

    I’m a longtime US reader who pops in for a quick breath of sanity every 3 months or so- and I was not disappointed today. Thank you for taking a moment to change gears (a landsman’s analogy) and comment on how the world’s changing attitude effects you and yours, even in the far corners of the Earth.

    People in the United States are apparently feeling the same fears and concerns as the Brexit supporters; if the rhetoric and overall tone of the Trump campaign is any indicator. And I share your cri de coeur, “Not in my name!”, as all meaningful conversation about fixing what are certainly real problems is lost in the racism and fear-mongering and hatred of that party’s foul message. I simply cannot begin to fathom why we would count our country richer if we kept out the warmth and bounty of our global neighbors. I am so privileged to live in a world where blogs like yours are available to enrich my life and teach me new ways of thinking.

    But I was moved to write not because of my feelings about Brexit, which I am eminently unqualified to comment upon, or even because your writing is so thought-provoking and pleasant (although it certainly is both); I write to put my weight on the scales of this comment section (with full recognition of the futility of the gesture).

    I think action always beats inaction, despite the peace that inaction offers a Buddhist, and I think leaving the EU qualifies as inaction. Your point about needing to be in the club to change the club is well-taken, and applies to global society. “Dr. Hamilton”‘s explanation above about Spain and their catch quotas as an example; does one country’s failure to comply with the spirit of a law make the law a failure? If we have problems with immigrants or immigration policy (both the UK and the US included in that “we”, although I do not concede that we do have a problem), can we not find a way to make immigration work, rather than throwing up our hands and saying “forget it, it’s too difficult to work with others, we quit”? A Trump presidency would be the US equivalent of this.

    And the inevitable and perhaps justifiable response to my plea should be a stream of facts and figures and dates and times; and I could find these for my point as well- but I am not addressing the facts and it isn’t the figures that I have a problem with; it’s the spirit in which this debate is now carried out. There IS a feeling of exclusion, of jingoism and “my country, right or wrong”, that is creeping back into the dialogue and making me heartsick. I want to travel, to visit England and China and Beirut, and be welcomed for the diversity I bring and to take home the diversity of those places. But my country’s policies have turned global sentiment against her, and our ignorance and arrogance have made me unwelcome by association. Close-mindedness and violent rhetoric have made everywhere unsafe for anyone and with comments and sentiments like some above, and like those we hear each day out of the mouths of our parents and neighbors and coworkers and friends, we stoke those flames. Despite our mistakes, we can be better and we should be better.

    I apologize for my cloying earnestness, which has no place on the internet, and for addressing the comments and not the substance of your article, which you were kind enough to write.

    1. Very well put, R.D. – “It’s the spirit in which this debate is now carried out. There IS a feeling of exclusion, of jingoism and “my country, right or wrong”, that is creeping back into the dialogue and making me heartsick.”

      And the earnestness is fine and not at all cloying. 🙂
      Thank-you for your input.
      Jill

  6. lots of people liked the 3rd reich also……..in the beginning………now the 4th reich is already on the way……I wonder who the “new” jews will be…..anyway …. who awaits of germans to make something good for Europe , needs to reread some history……. but bankers seem to really understand each other….

    …I read your articles in my coffe brake….nice brain stretching

  7. Jill,
    You have a very enlightened point of view and I feel that you are on the right path. Humanity will have to catch up to you and until they do so, there is going to be division. It seems that this is the crux of the message from all media sorts and powers that be is to divide and conquer. Never let the sheep come together collectively because if they did, the game would be over for those whom deem themselves to run the world. The former Governor Lamm of Colorado in the USA wrote a speech in March of 2006. It was titled “How to Destroy America”. In his article he wrote about how to destroy a country through its borders and through the introduction of a bilingual or multi-lingual and bicultural country. History shows that no nation can survive the tension, conflict, and antagonism of two or more competing languages and cultures. Unless we can awaken to these plans by the elite to divide us, we will forever be fighting with each other and our enlightenment will not be forthcoming. Here is the link to that article.
    http://www.safehaven.com/article/4837/how-to-destroy-america

  8. Jill

    This is really insightful. Well done and thank you.

    As you may have seen Richmond Park was won by Lib Dems last week as was a local Chichester District Council by Election in Southbourne – from the Tories and against a large majority in both sites.

    Richmond is important as it was won on a strong remain campaign and of course trying to stop the extra runway…

    Don’t worry about those who condemn your article it is normal as they know no better. As part of the 48% we can continue to say we want to remain. It is a democratic right.

    Many of us will continue the campaign and there is much water to go under the bridge.

    With our very best wishes

    Adrian
    PS I hope the exams went well for Roxanne! I have enjoyed her book v much

    1. Hullo Adrian,
      Thanks for your comments.

      All aboard Mollymawk continue to hope for a Britain which remains united with its European partners. Events of the past few months have shown very clearly that the predictions of a damaged economy and of racism and fascism were not fanciful; far from it.
      We are not distressed by the fact that some of our readers hold different opinions; and nor are we the least bit intimidated by the Witch’s nasty little pep talk, to the effect that anyone who fails to rally around and do what she wants is unpatriotic. On the contrary. It seems to echo something that we’ve heard before………..

      I am also more than ever persuaded that the stance taken my friend the monk is a mistaken one. When those of us whose desire is for peace and unity stand aside, believing that we are ‘above’ involvement in politics, then we merely open the door for those of a less friendly mindset to do as they please. It’s a bore, certainly, but if we don’t want things to get very bad we’re going to have to roll up our sleeves and get a bit messy.
      Recently, the words of Martin Luther King keep coming into my mind, and I feel that they are appropriate to this situation :

      “You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be. And one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid…. … You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab you, or shoot at you or bomb your house [or you simply can’t be bothered!] so you refuse to take the stand.
      Well, you may go on and live until you are 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90. And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.”

      I feel rather that way about Brexit.
      My mother lived through the Blitz, and as a child I used to listen to her description of how she had to sleep in a steel crate under the table, so that if a bomb fell on the house she would not be crushed. I think of that when I see photos of Syria, and it seems to me that if the EU falls apart, we’ll be going through it all over again. After all, until the EU was formed Europe was pretty much always at war.
      I may be wrong, of course – and I hope I am! – but on the basis that the majority of the German people didn’t want to believe what they were seeing and preferred to just stick their heads in the sand, with dire consequences, I don’t feel that we can afford the luxury of sitting on the fence (or on the zafu, or meditation cushion). Thus, the present zeitgeist of fascism-cavorting-as-patriotism is one that I shall continue to fight, even if only with my pen.

      I’m glad you enjoyed ‘Two Gulls and a Girl’. Roxanne did very well in her GCSES, thank-you. She now has her own website, http://www.greenonblue.org, for which she writes articles – when she’s not busy genning up on politics or creating anti-Brexit memes….. 🙂

      Wishing you safe and well,
      Jill

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