And so yet again it seems, this little island, this wearied, confused offshoot of the European mainland, is to be pestered by a band of its own politicians, vision-less and old before their time, about getting out of Europe. And/or changing our relationship with it. They appear to be serious, threatening in pursuit of their obsession, to disrupt the fragile coalition government which at the moment, has the task of running – or trying to run – the UK. And – most disturbing of all – they are young. Most of them are part of the most recent parliamentary intake.
The world is small these days, and getting smaller. Climb aboard an aircraft and you’re on the other side of the world in hours. Walk through a market in any of the world’s big cities and you’ll hear a dozen languages. A single family can be spread across continents; we can work anywhere in Europe; we can holiday in Blackpool, India, Hong Kong, Southend, Florida, anywhere we choose – we can be as migratory almost as birds. I talk via the computer to my son who lives and works in Buenos Aires and it’s like he’s in the same room. I can shoot off emails to the Windward Islands or Watford and be pretty sure they’ll be there in seconds. In a pub in the Cotswolds you can watch a football match live in Rio. And to those who follow football, many of the players will be as well-known as if they played in the local park in Oxford on Sunday mornings. This is not, any longer, a world of separate parts.
If we – or any other nation on the earth – are to approach the future with any real seriousness of purpose, it surely has to be on the basis that all of us on this lonely, spinning globe are part of a single community comprising many races and many cultures. And that moreover, the only way any of us – or our children – is going to have any viable, peaceful future is to learn to live together. That is how things have been moving over the whole course of human history, and it’s not going to change now. The cave-dwellers of pre-history are yesterday’s warring tribes are today’s bickering sovereign states.
The other day I watched again Richard Attenborough’s film, ‘Oh, What a Lovely War’. It is an extraordinarily sensitive, hard-hitting and poignant reminder of the obscene lunacy of war. I rate it, along with Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Paths of Glory’ and the original version of ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ as one of the best ever anti-war films. Do those who now crow so loudly once again for this island to break away and stand on its own have any understanding of the processes which produced the heartache, the mayhem of that conflict and the equally appalling one that followed it a mere twenty years later? There were many strands to it, but all of those strands depended ultimately for their effectiveness on one thing – one thing from which flowed the ability of leaders to deceive and manipulate – the isolation of one society, of one individual from another.
I am preparing – very slowly – a book of meditations with accompanying photographs. Here is one of them –
“The world moves towards wholeness and unity. It has done so since the beginning and beyond. Pre-history’s scattered cave-dwellers are yesterday’s warring tribes are today’s bickering sovereign nations. And these, whether they see it or not, whether they acknowledge it or not, whether they like it or not, are moving inexorably, as does a river to the sea, towards Oneness. It will not come easy – nor is it, as can be seen around the world today. Warlords fight, politicians jockey for advantage. Others, hostage to their own delusions, do away with themselves and with innocents around them. All these see only the ground at their feet.
The river runs deep on its way to the sea. It is Life. And we will not any of us stand in the way of its coming Home.”