I have always known that life is a series of cycles, but have not till now truly felt its impact. My parents both lived through the Second World War and I always felt that those times impacted on those who lived through it more than any of us can imagine. Now we are in the middle of another conflict, a far subtler one than before and it starts within and is now showing itself in nearly every aspect of life. It divides us, as our hearts that only know love, have been taught to feel hate for so long we do not even see the issue here. This plays out in our families, with our neighbours, it has now divided our country and our nations.
We are in a state of crisis in every walk of life; ecologically, economically, politically and emotionally but we can change all this if we choose to.
As Brexit looms ever closer and people take their sides and firm up the walls while pulling up the draw bridge, I try and stay calm. However, this becomes increasingly difficult as the prospects are not looking good on any front. However, for every cloud there is a silver lining and more proverbs than I could care to remember about such situations. What we would do well consider is that what has brought us to this juncture is mainly rhetoric, and no one truly knows what the future may hold.
A wider viewpoint is perhaps necessary here. The film Sliding Doors comes to mind. This brings in the idea that whatever our destiny is we will get there anyway but perhaps have a choice of the routes we take to get there.
I did feel at the beginning that if a new way was going to evolve, the emergence of a better world for all, then the old regime would need to fall away. If we wanted this to happen quickly (which I do not believe is helpful) then I did think that Brexit could be the answer. If we wanted our country to crash in a way not felt here before then leaving Europe and drawing up the bridge would isolate us and make us realise that we are just a small insignificant island after all. But that’s just politically and geographically, as an experiment to experience the emergence of the new world, this island has the chance to lead the way.
However, I feel it is important to understand a few things and to recognise how we arrived at this place. I heard at the anti-people’s vote rally that someone was reported to have said that ‘it is time we returned to the time when we were a great empire’. I think this statement speaks from the viewpoint of an extremist and has been some of the fuel driving the campaign. I feel it is important to be aware of the divisive nature of this referendum and how it has polarised us as a nation in so many ways.
I feel we need to revisit the history lessons we teach in schools. When I was in Israel in the 80s and visited the Holocaust Museum I was horrified that a young German amongst our kibbutz volunteers was hearing about the Holocaust for the first time here. He was reduced to sobbing through the film. As a Jew I was very upset for him and presumed that Germany simply wasn’t ready to teach this history in its schools as yet. It was only 40 years since the war. However, earlier this year I discovered that this actually wasn’t true and that in the 80s Germany was going hell for leather teaching its children about its dark past.
Why don’t we do this? It took till I was 40 to learn that the Irish famine wasn’t just about the potato blight, but a situation taken advantage of by our government designed to starve the Irish people while their food was being shipped out the country to England. The reason for this seemed to be to teach the Irish a lesson! We may have worked hard to improve our relationship with Ireland and its people but I do not feel we are taking enough responsibility for our part in the story. To me it feels like we are expecting all the work to be done between the North and the South. We are still in a place of denial about our actions here and all around the world.
If we are not educated and our history explained to people then no one will understand the full story. If we don’t teach our citizens that this is the result of hundreds of years of the British Empire’s imperialistic bullying and ruthless actions then they will only feel anger towards what is going on. We would understand a lot more if we heard everyone’s perspective and not just our own. Every conflict has two sides, I sense that we have only ever been taught one; ours. That is only half a truth.
I believe it is time to become more aware of our role in the world story and take responsibility for our part here and the damage we have done. The Irish story in particular needs understanding for the whole 800 year journey and the sooner this is more widely taught the better.
As those who voted for Brexit point the finger at Europe and those that voted Remain point at those who voted for Brexit, it is important to remember that three of those fingers are pointing back at themselves. We are all embroiled in this for all the good and all that is not at all good.
We are now entering another cycle, signalled by Uranus' 84 year journey around the sun, that is bringing us right back to the energy of the rise of the right before the Second World War. This is an opportunity and it is up to us to choose which road we take, whether we step forward with conflict or peace in our hearts.