This week I urge you not to vote #LEAVE. I was going to offer high-minded reasons why, but I will leave it to David Mitchell and Lana Wachowski to explain:
To be is to be perceived. And so to know thyself is only possible through the eyes of the other. The nature of our immortal lives is in the consequences of our words and deeds, that go on and are pushing themselves throughout all time.
Our lives are not our own: from womb to tomb, we are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.
Sonmi 451, from ‘Cloud Atlas’
To vote #LEAVE is to fear The Other. Listen to the arguments: The Other is a European bureaucrat, a Romanian immigrant, a Muslim fanatic. May as well be a young offender, a public sector worker or a homosexual.
The founders of such bureaucratic behemoths as the European Community and the United Nations knew that we must stop fearing and hating each other, because that will only perpetuate the wars that have plagued humanity. If they have become unwieldy and ineffectual – or too powerful – such a muddle is better than the bloody alternative.
As a Quaker, I look for goodness – that of God – in others. I cannot ‘other’ them – us – because we are inextricably connected. If you recognise another person’s humanity, it becomes difficult to treat them badly – and you don’t have to look far along the path of countless genocides to see how dehumanising one’s enemy is an early and essential step.
This planet is too small for us to ignore the other. #LEAVE’s parochial insularity rides roughshod over the fact of our interconnectedness.
My mum, aged 75 and an immigrant living in France, put it this way. “It’s like trying to go back to a country we lived in years ago. It’s never the same.” The Great Britain that #LEAVE harks back to was a nation that was coasting to a bumpy landing after a century and a half of gaining and exploiting an empire.
If we want to return to our ‘true’ state, before looting the world, we’re more the nation of John Cabot (an Italian by the way). A glance at the late fifteenth century economy would show you the importance of European trade and interconnectedness. We’re a little group of islanders: we don’t produce as much as we consume; we buy more than we sell. That’s not sustainable.
By attempting to pull up the drawbridge, we trash the lives of others and the futures of our children. And that’s my 90 year-old father-in-law’s sentiment as much as mine.
If you are considering a vote for #LEAVE, be other-centred: think again and vote for someone else.