The price I paid for pulling out the stops to make it to this morning’s march for Europe – a march I saw personally as reaching above the confines of the Brexit issue and celebrating the valuable things the EU (whose 60th birthday it is today) stands for, despite its flaws – is the crossing of the tipping point into the dreary realm of illness.
The cough has worsened and the general aches and pains and headache are all coming slowly in, testament to how hard I have been subjecting this physical vessel in recent weeks to testing yet again. But would I do it all over? To quote Mr Big, abso******lutely. 😌
As I told the kids this morning who were raising a couple of objections, something like this doesn’t happen every day. And they should never take their democratic freedom, their freedom to find things out for themselves and *make up their own minds*, and their freedom of personal expression of opinion, for granted…or to leave it to “someone else to sort it out”.
Ownership and personal responsibility have been foundations I have laid down in my parenting from the moment they could start to understand. And the moment they arrived and saw the massive crowd, all the posters (some with fairly provocative language!) and kids and flags and drum beaters and chanters and thousands and thousands of everywomen and everymen, I needed no more persuading to do; their natural curiosity took over.
There is no pretense in our household that these are in any way simple issues. They are not. I am not comfortable with everything that gets chanted, nor the mindlessness and herd mentality that can be every bit on display on an occasion like this, as much as on the ballot sheet that “roots for the other side”.
But what I do seek to introduce is curiosity, engagement, a sense of caring about these issues beyond watching the goggle box.
There is much I am ignorant about, and I do not imagine for one moment that my position in celebrating the EU’s existence, or championing the reengagement of the UK with the EU on more constructive and nuanced terms, is in any way “watertight” or 100% defensible.
I am aware, having studied the history and philosophy of science for example, how the structure of scientific revolutions is delineated in the form of disruptive shifts interspersing periods of incremental progress. The phoenix does have to burn down to a crisp every now and then for an entirely new form to emerge, that is fitter for purpose.
But when the dust and ashes settle, there are a few things I care about, and these lie at the value level, which reaches beyond the “intellectual” level. I will not use the word “irrational” here. It is too loaded, and not useful, or illuminating. I also do not find it accurate, to deem them “irrational.” For my personal values run true to a much deeper logic.
Connecting one human being to another, that together we are better than alone, that life is worth living, that we each have the right to pursue the fulfilment of our own potential; that the best of humanity emerges not from fear but rather from joy, from release not suppression, from expansion not retraction, from humility not hubris, from vulnerable imperfection not photoshopped perfection, from play not war…from the dissolution of boundaries not the drawing of new battle lines. From the invitation of love, not the provocation of hate.
These values, I do not see espoused anywhere in Brexit. That’s what makes it stink to me. And, to paraphrase what I told a dear friend recently, one can’t try to get a window clean armed with a dirty cloth to use.
And these values are what I seek to teach my children one way or another, how to recognise them when they see them, how to see when they are missing, and what choices open up to them then, what they can think and feel and do and be about it.