I need not describe how very troubled our world is, today. Humans seem intent on killing, torture and enslaving while our planet is suffering from the effects of climate change and our exploitation of nature. In Europe, including in the UK, people are weary of war. The scars of the two World Wars still resonate with families in Europe and the world over and yet, it would seem, some quarters of humanity are intent on yet more conflict. Some people seek to divide, while others seek to unite.
Let us be on the side of unity rather than division.
For those of us who believe in peace, in the beauty of humanity of all kinds and who aspire to create a world free from conflict, a world in which we treat our planet with respect and a world in which we treat each other simply with kindness and friendship, these times can seem bleak and even bordering on the hopeless.
Yet, amid all of this, something utterly incredible has happened. The birth of a place on Earth within which people from twenty-eight countries are working to create common values that cross borders. A land of some 500million people. A place where a long history of conflict has become a beacon for hope. A collaboration of independent countries that are only at the beginning of trying to create a society based upon collaboration, unity, mutual support, friendship and peace.
These countries now sit around tables together, debate society together and seek to make all of the relationships between each other more open. They seek to work together on raising the standards of living across an entire continent, on safeguarding our natural world, on creating laws that are shared across the continent and on safeguarding our way of life and values, amid a changing and ever smaller world. Will it be problem free? No. Will it take a lot of work? Yes. So, let us work together at making it great.
When I was a teenager and young man in the 1980’s and 1990’s here in England, I watched with great hope as I saw how our countries pulled together to respond to famine in Africa. I do not refer to our Governments, I am speaking of we, the people. I recall the joy of seeing Germany pull down its wall and become unified once more. I recall the feeling of joy and hope in the UK and in Europe, as we started to lay the ghosts of the past, to rest. My family had suffered great human and financial loss in both wars and yet the joy of seeing Germany move towards a new and bright future was a feeling of great hope. It was the right thing to have happened. Then, there was the end of the Soviet Union. The land that had for so long been closed to the world, was now tearing down the constraints of its own troubled past and neighbouring countries became free from the chains of Communist Dictatorship. The news of those days was filled with hope.
These events helped to trigger the new direction for Europe. A desire to step away from the disharmony of the past and to build a land where people work together to build a freedom that tears down the very boundaries that we have so long entrenched ourselves behind. A land where people can move freely wherever they choose to be, a land where our elected representatives sit together around tables to work in partnership for the common good. A land where people with differences, choose to unite in what is common between them.
Now, across Europe, our children and young people are sitting in classes together, side by side. They are learning not to see divides and difference, they are learning to be one common humanity, together. Throughout the UK and Europe, people from twenty-eight countries are working alongside each other, building together and are letting go of the divides that once took us all into conflict. Over 2million British people have picked up homes and businesses and relocated them to other parts of this continent; taking with them the same capacity for living in peaceful harmony across our great continent.
Is the European Union now fully complete and created? No. We are only at the beginning of building the EU. Of course there are problems and difficulties but many of these will be resolved over time. We could listen to those who seek division. We could hear that nationalist cry for putting barriers back in place. My Great Grandfather died in WWI. This devastated my family and the further losses of WWII had a similar effect. I believe he fought for humanity, for peace. I am sure that while experiencing the horrors he witnessed, he would have been praying for things to be different; for people simply to come together in peaceful union and for us all to recognise that more unites us, than need divide us.
My Grandparents told me about how they survived WWII. They said that they never gave up believing in the best of humanity. They said that if we ever decide to make decisions about how we live, based upon fear, then it will be that which is the biggest risk of all.
Many people fear Refugees. Many people fear closer union. Many people will vote ‘Leave’ because deep down they fear change. As for me, I recall the words of my Grandparents and I will now only ever act upon what I believe is the best about humanity. I will only ever act based upon aspiration and hopefulness. I too dream of a world in which Humans unite in love and friendship and let go of fear, hatred and prejudice. For that reason, I will vote ‘Remain’; for we are stronger together, better together and there is greater hope for humanity, in coming together. Division is just that; a divide. The days of humanity being divided must come to an end and the EU offers the greatest recent chance to show humanity that we can pull together for the common good; the good of the people and for the good of our beautiful planet.