Friday, 25 February 2022

Thinking about being European and the interconnectedness of everything!

Surely the present moment is a time to be part of Europe? asks someone on a group called Campaign to rejoin the EU. I understand completely. 

Someone else posted this: 

“Me and my family live in Turin. At the weekend we're going to invade France. If it's nice, we might storm the beach. As EU citisens we can. We don't need guns. We can even stay, if we like it, and get a job there. A few French no doubt will invade Turin at the same time. The UK won't open up and share their territory because they want independence, the Russians force Ukraine to open up, without building trust, because they want dependence. Us Europeans understand the beauty of interdependence, where war is no longer necessary, because we form a happy community on one territory!”

With all the stuff that’s going on in Ukraine, and with pro-Brexit people still banging on about the wonders of “taking back control”, I decided to remind myself, and anyone else interested, about the origins of the EU, very nearly 65 years ago, before we called it the EU.

“On March 25, 1957, France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg sign a treaty in Rome establishing the European Economic Community (EEC), also known as the Common Market. The EEC, which came into operation in January 1958, was a major step in Europe’s movement toward economic and political union.

By 1950, it was apparent that centuries of Western European world supremacy was at an end. The national markets of Europe, isolated from each other by archaic trade laws, were no match for the giant market enjoyed by the United States. And looming over Europe from the east was the Soviet Union, whose communist leaders commanded vast territory and economic resources under a single system. Many European leaders also feared the resumption of conflict between traditional European antagonists such as France and Germany, which would only diminish the European economies further.”

That’s my underlining of the bit about fearing the resumption of conflict. I used to teach this stuff to A-Level Modern Languages students in sixth form. When the referendum came along and some people started talking about Europe telling us what to do, as if we were not actually part of Europe and part of the decision making process, I remembered the years without conflict and wanted to shout it out loud. Maybe I was naively idealistic!

Okay, Ukraine is not part of the EU and neither is Russia but we’re all interconnected. For one thing, Ukraine produces and exports an awful lot of wheat. The price of bread will surely rise. Revolutions have begun because of shortages of bread! All the countries of the world are more interconnected now than ever before. 

And already images are emerging of people fleeing Ukraine and of part of Ukrainian cities damaged by shelling. Are we going to see more people reduced to refugees and more beautiful places reduced to rubble?

And I am sorry we are no longer properly European to make a stand against all the madness. We need to get back to talking. 

“One day we will learn the lesson of peace, that war never solved any conflict in the long run; that in the victory the victor too is defeated;that in conquering others we diminish ourselves.” Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.  

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

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