What is it we fear?

For twenty months now since the referendum on European membership and the result by a small margin to leave, I have gone through a gamut of emotions.

It has been akin to bereavement for me and possibly like me, others who voted to remain. At first anger, which no matter how I try, still resonates and then utter sadness and disappointment at my fellow countrymen and women, who for my part have been myopic, jingoistic and nationalistic on a grand scale hiding behind a cloak of faux patriotism.

I am wrong and have attributed negative qualities to my fellow Britons because I wanted to lash out and try to impress upon them how wrong they are. I have not fully understood their concerns and fears until now. I have been reading a book called “The Penguin Book of Modern Speeches’, which my daughter gave me for Christmas . Please note, that is not famous speeches, but speeches from all political figures and even moving soliloquies by people addressing the court, who were sentenced to death, for crimes they did not commit.

 The speech which brought me great clarity about where we now find ourselves as a nation was spoken by Franklin Delano Roosevelt on his inauguration as U.S. President on 4th March 1933 (how coincidental that 2nd March 2018 May made her definitive Brexit speech, which I listened to in its entirety). Roosevelt’s speech is entitled: –

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”.

This speech was at the time when the Great Depression was at its worst and America seemed beyond help and Roosevelt paraphrasing Henry David Thoreau’s writings where he says “ Nothing is so much to be feared as fear” galvanised the public mood and almost single handedly saved America, who then went on to play such a great part in helping the Allies to defeat the Nazi threat in World War 2.

That got me rethinking my perception of why we as a country find ourselves in the position of exiting an institution, which has done us, overall much good.

My conclusion is I have attributed these rather nasty and insular characteristics to my fellow Britons when in fact the movement to leave was whipped up by a few political and other influential figures that saw their elite power being eroded by the level of workers and human rights raised and substantiated by the European institutions. Power to the many not the few and erosion of deference is a powerful driver for those who have traditionally held power in this country. So, how have they achieved this?

By creating unprecedented levels of fear.

Fear of other people, fear of the dissolution of our heritage, our culture, our traditions and most of all our sovereignity.

But what do we as nation have to fear from belonging to a powerful political and trading bloc, which now and in the future will hold great sway in the world economy and affairs? Why do we, a nation that has defeated the most dangerous enemies the world has seen, created and lost the biggest Empire the world has seen, have the most innovative, creative and dynamic people in the world, who have given and continue to give the world, education, science, art and media, what is it we fear, if it isn’t fear itself?

Instead why not recognise the strengths of our culture, heritage and traditions, which no other nation has ever, and can ever take from us and play our part in shaping and influencing the great institutions of Europe, so we can be part of something that will also shape the world. Because I believe it is only fear that holds us back and will condemn us to isolation and end in us becoming a second rate nation, without influence in the world, without a voice that is listened to, as it always has been.

Don’t let the small group of influential dogmatists bent only on their own self-interest make us all afraid and take a back seat from the world.

As Roosevelt said all those years ago and which is even more poignant in today’s world.

“We have nothing to fear, except fear itself”.

One Response

     
  1. Flexiblelee
    said on January 15, 2021

    number of surviving European

     

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