Saturday, 4 June 2016

For the love of Europe

I would imagine it will come as no surprise to any one who knows me that in the referendum on June 23rd I will be voting to stay in Europe.

I have, as many of you will know, personally reaped the benefits of this thing called the EU in many ways: the chance to explore places and meet people made much less complicated than it might have been; some amazing friends that I might otherwise never have had the privilege to meet; a wealth of experiences that have helped shape who I am.

I am infinitely grateful for all of this ...but that isn't really what I want this blogpost to say.

One of the things which has saddened, but I guess not surprised, me about the campaigns, both to remain and to leave, is how much of the message is shaped around perceived personal gain or loss, The message, from both sides is vote with us, because it will be better for you.

I like to hope that, for at least some of us voting on the 23rd June, whether or not we personally will be richer or poorer won't be the only reason for the choices we make. I like to hope that my reasons for opting in to the European project are not entirely selfish.

Financially, I don't know whether I personally will be richer or poorer if we vote to stay or go. Likewise, I don't know whether we as a country will be wealthier or not. As one of the richest countries in the world, with material wealth and a passion for consumer growth well beyond what is sustainable for the future of the planet, I also don't think it really matters.

I am in favour of this European dream primarily for the simple reason that I think we should be in the business of removing borders, not creating new ones. And while this might not be the only or even the ideal way to do so, I certainly don't think retreating on to our little island and drawing up the drawbridge behind us is the way forward. I think that as a world we are infinitely richer in the ways that really count when we choose to reach out to one another rather than shy away in suspicion, fear and hatred.

For me, it is a question of living my humanity more fully which becomes possible when I can live it in relationship with the other, whoever they may be. It is also a question of living the gospel to which I am called, a gospel imbued with a deep sense of love which breaks down barriers and reaches beyond our human understanding and the artificial boundaries we draw between ourselves.

Don't get me wrong, I know that there are a whole heap of problems with the current European model ... Trade deals like TTIP are truly terrifying, the race to the economic bottom by using free movement of labour to drive down wages is a valid and genuine concern and there are justifiable question marks over the democratic deficit with some of the processes involved.

I know I am not voting to stay in a perfect Europe. Nor am I offering my whole-hearted and unconditional support to all it is and does,

But I am voting for a world where we build bridges instead of walls, where we seek what unites rather than what divides.

I'm in.

1 comment:

  1. Well said, Stephanie - I couldn't agree more. You put it much more eloquently than me but I agree with the sentiments expressed. I want to live in a country that is open and inclusive. I'm in too!