Greetings from Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, Canada! I returned to Canada on 21st June 2016, two days before the referendum on whether the United Kingdom would remain in or leave the European Union and just five days after my flat sale in London completed! How’s that for timing? I was happily reunited with my fiance, Brett and since then we have been going full speed ahead on preparing Theros for our wedding day in July and post-nuptial adventures on the high seas. For all of the nautical but nice techie descriptions of the work we have been doing on the boat, please feel free to browse Brett’s blog over at Theros Sailing Adventure. Suffice to say as Captain’s mate and galley slave I have been carrying out numerous tasks including helping Brett to sort out the sail locker, in which I discovered this unravelling spool of twine…(see above).
“Hmmm what relevance does an unravelling spool of twine have to your travel blog?” I hear you think… Well, it may seem a tad tenuous link but I will endeavour to explain it nonetheless, so stay with me. Although I left the UK ahead of the referendum, I made damn sure I carried out my civic duty and voted by post a few days beforehand. I believe passionately in voting and having my say in local or national politics. It is a basic human right after all and people have campaigned and sacrificed their lives through the ages so that we, British citizens, can have the vote. In case you are wondering, I voted for the UK to remain in the European Union, despite its numerous flaws. I feel strongly that it is important for the nations within the European Union to stand together, collaborate and cooperate fully and closely in order to further the respect and fulfilment of human rights, find solutions to common and global challenges, maintain peace, protect the environment, co-create culture and improve the standards of living of all who reside on the continent and beyond the so-called borders.
You see, I consider myself to be a global citizen first, a European second and a Brit third. How so? Why? The fact that I am a Brit by nationality is a mere accident of birth. Don’t get me wrong. I love Great Britain for it is a fabulous collection of beautiful countries, but I did not choose to be born in the UK. Well I don’t remember that I chose to be born there. However, there are some schools of thought out in the ether that suggest we all choose our parents and when and where we are born but I am still pondering on that idea. I am European, because I can celebrate our rich diversity in our togetherness. I am European because I value peace in Europe, having come from a family, in which my mum survived the Coventry blitz and my dad served in the navy during the World War 2 theatres of Europe and the Far East. The horrors of which, he could not speak about. Ever. I am European because I greatly admire the advances in art, music, architecture, science, technology, medicine and forms of culture that Europeans have given to the world.
I am a global citizen, because I’m not a huge fan of nation state boundaries and nationalism at any rate, having spent a great proportion of the last twenty years or so living and working as a humanitarian aid worker in a variety of countries all around the world, mopping up the mess often created by nationalism. Throughout my humanitarian career I rapidly came to realise three important things:
- We do not need or have to fear “the other” for “the other” is merely a social construct, birthed from a place of fear and the false illusion of ‘scarcity’, creating competition, to benefit the vested interests of a few and keep people under control. When viewed through different lenses, the lens of love and the lens of abundance, it is so easy to see that we all eat, sleep, breathe, laugh, cry and bleed the same. We are one human race, not several races competing against each other to reach the finish line. There is enough to go round. Yes, really.
- Most folk on this planet of ours that I have had the honour and privilege of meeting, tend to be good, kind, loving, welcoming and want the best for their families and strive for simple, peaceful lives, like we all do and therein, lies our common ground. This is the place where mutual recognition, respect and trust grows.
- Much of the war, destruction, oppression and exploitation of humans and the natural world over thousands of years and, more recently, in the name of various empires, has been conducted under the banners of nation states in gigantic willy-wobbling contests in order to gain the illusion of power over “the other”and strip the earth of her resources. And to what end? So that we drive ourselves to the edge of the proverbial cliff of existence like Norwegian lemmings in search of a new habitat? (By the way, Norwegian lemmings do not commit mass suicide, and neither should we…).
Imagine my abject horror, dismay and disbelief, then, when I tuned into the radio, while on board Theros, the day after the EU referendum to learn that 52% of the UK population voted to leave the EU, while 48 % voted remain. I was in shock for days afterwards. How did the UK become so completely small-minded, fearful and isolationist? By believing the propaganda peddled by the useless fuckwits, who orchestrated the Brexit campaign – Johnson, Gove and Farage and their hangers-on, that’s how. You may be aware that they have since buggered off and left a pile of elephant shit in the living room for their colleague, a new ‘unelected’ Prime Minister and her colleagues to shovel up, after David Cameron steps down.
Ok, so the referendum was a supposedly ‘democratic’ process and various politicians (David Cameron included) and media outlets urged the populus to respect the Brexit outcome. I tried. I really did. As quick as a dangling Boris Johnson on a zip wire, the truth began to trickle out that left me questioning our democracy. How can I respect the outcome when voters were manipulated by lies and misinformation? How can I respect the outcome when the Brexiteers put no sensible, pragmatic plan together; No roadmap to the exit? They didn’t have a plan, because they didn’t really expect to win. It was all political manoevering to position certain individuals in the race to run for Prime Minister. How can I respect the outcome when the referendum has now exposed the deep divides in our lands along generational lines and a seemingly xenophobic swing to the far right? This is a mess.
Like that spool of twine I found in the sail locker, the EU referendum has revealed the unravelling of the United Kingdom from the inside out. A disentangling of socio-economic and political threads. An unlacing of unity. It is quite possible that Scotland will now want to become independent in order to stay in the EU. Some say the Brexit result will lead to the unravelling of Europe as well. I’m not totally convinced by this, but who knows?
I am wondering whether Brexit will actually happen, as parliament has not yet voted on whether to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty to trigger the formal leaving process. If it does happen, however, as counter-intuitive as it may seem, I must remain hopeful. As I reflected on the jumble of messed up twine on the deck, I began to disentangle the lines of the spool from the inside out and wind it up into a new ball. I looked at the spool closely and recognised that the yarn itself was made up of several threads, all individual, similar in appearance, yet distinct but when wound together they formed a strong cord. This cord could be moulded into new shapes and serve several functions. Perhaps the countries of the UK, and also those of the EU, are like the individual threads forming the twine, separate and distinct but wound together into a cord. Each thread requiring the other to gain strength and mouldability so it can be adapted to serve different functions and purposes required of it in the future, like the new ball of twine. Only time will tell.
Thanks for sticking with this until the end of the post.
Peace, love and light,