Today it felt important to write some words.
Many have already shared about the EU referendum with far more salient political and economic experience.
Still I’m lucky enough to have a vote and if democracy means anything it means feeling permitted to stand up and speak – however trite, overblown or tangential.
There are only a handful of days left and it has struck us powerfully that forces across the planet are making the solid and safe democratic process of putting a cross in a box seem suddenly uncertain.
There is much that has been damaged. We live in an age so soaked in war and conflict that mass suffering, poverty, environmental devastation are the realities broadcast into all our homes.
And as this news is reiterated so desperate, fragile men respond with terrible panic. Shooting dozens of people in a gay club in Orlando because they feel shame with their own sexuality and desire. Gunning down Jo Cox because they think wanting to help people turns us into traitors. The demented face of panic is what it takes to make murderers of us. It is the face of Donald Trump, gurning for someone to jab the finger at. It is what we hear when Nigel Farage denounces people who would cross a continent for the hope of a home.
Fear is the currency of many mediated stories. It is the undertow that pulls us down whenever the phrase ‘War on Terror’, or any of its permutations, returns, like the motif of a particularly heartbreaking fugue. It is locking your door, putting up walls, hoarding your gold. Fear is a terrible slinky of barbed wire scribbling the dawn. It is plastic surgery and pills to cure death. It is the crazed eye of possession outstaring the inevitable loss to which every nursery rhyme attests.
When the potential to leave the European Union is discussed, it feels like a response coming from fear. It’s not just about the racism, the narrow-mindedness, the meanness of taking a nation’s good fortune and wanting to ensnare it in barbed wires so those more poor and brutalised can’t access it. It is a fear that the world is falling apart and that argues we are better off far away from it as it does so.
And yes, it can seem a frightening set of circumstances to grow up and grow old in. The world is in a parlous state.
But it is our world, just as it is our Europe. This is our home. These are the parameters of existence we are deciding whether to stay within or shun. There may be many within the EU who are corrupt, pulling the gold from a rotten mouth to make the best of such fearful days. But the same can be said of corporate leaders the world over. Some politicians may be self-serving manipulators, others, like Jo Cox, remind us that there are people passionate about helping, celebrating the humanity we share, doing what they can to shape our damaged world into one with less suffering.
We have a choice this Thursday. Actually we have a choice every minute of our lives. Whether to act from fear or act from love.
Love might be unsophisticated and dreamy. But Love is what we need to remember if we would rather see our planet as one in which all life can thrive in safety and harmony than one riddled with conflict and governed from fear.
Love isn’t that cute either. It’s not a saccharine cure-all that banishes effort or challenge. Voting to stay within something is not saying it’s perfect. It’s not saying all the work is done. But to commit to belonging to something (whether a relationship or a community) and act with love for our neighbours, our continents, our home, is the only path to bliss and away from fear.
I want our children’s children across the world to grow into a world of greater equality, less war, less fear, more kindness, more beauty, more love. I want that reality now. And if voting to stay a part of this unfolding process is what it takes to be a part of manifesting that reality then I’m IN.