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No-one is truly an island

June 22, 2016

We can’t hear you above your facts – my Brexit friends.

No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee. – John Donne.

This curious quote, containing perhaps some wonderful prose,* also has a point. A larger one about the future of humanity as a whole. Also a whole lot of Politics and Religion.

Warning PnR!!! Of the variety everyone is sick about!!!! Also a ludicrous amount of exclamation points!!!!

Many things cross my mind when I read books over a century old. Usually that they are definitely of their time when it comes to the hideous prejudices that are accepted as normal. But also, how so many of them are still relevant today.

There has been a lot of discussion about what Donne was talking about with his book “Meditation 17 Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions”, but a common consensus is that it was a message to Prince Charles I about how his actions in private at the time affected everyone in public.

Given how the meta commentary about Brexit could be read as “A bunch of bitter Tories teaming up to attempt to humiliate David Cameron who has humiliated them in the past and anoint a power hungry idiot at the expense of the rest of us**”, you would be hard pressed to find anything worth voting for.

Yet the EU referendum is a vote that will literally change the direction of the country for decades to come. It may also cause mass poverty, another global financial wobble and us having to go begging hand in cap to the EU in a few years when the Chinese and rest of the Commonwealth don’t magically make up for the money have lost not being able to trade freely with the EU anymore. On a more spiritual level, it would also signal us turning our back on progress in an attempt to hold back the tides as Canute one failed to do.

Yet I understand where those who want to. Our entire nations psychology still hasn’t gotten over that we once were an empire. We still believe we chart the direction of the earth, that we alone control our destiny. The we will MAKE BRITAIN GREAT AGAIN (without the whole racism thing).

Only…it was never true to begin with. The UK has always been better when we were together. We’ve been enriched by other cultures constantly, from as far back as the Romans bringing not only slaves to the UK (that then shaped out culture) but bringing their own culture, all the way to how current European immigrants are making us a better, more tolerant place and teaching us plenty about the outside world that our curriculum fails to do.

If we like it or not, the internet has erased the concept of borders and made my generation, and those proceeding it, embrace a more globalised world that has made the world a better place, even as we read about the more radical conservative elements giving their last gasp and trying to drag us down with them.

Will staying in the EU make things magically better overnight? Hell no. But we know it will get better in time. Whereas leaving now is not only going to fuck us over, for no reason more than one last attempt to spit in the eye of the rest of the world, but it signals an end to a dream concocted after the end of the second world war. One of a world that is united, whilst still celebrating our differences.

One striding ahead into the future, or at least taking a good stab at it, whilst fucking up a lot along the way. Doesn’t that sound as British as it gets?

Or are the mausoleums of our dead empire going to remain a bitter reminder for future generations as to why, when given the chance to continue charting a united course, we instead decided to ignore the lessons of history?

Vote Remain. Then vote for a better government than the bunch of arseholes we have now.


*And possibly delusional ramblings – Donne was supposedly feverish for 23 days whilst writing the work this quote is from.

**As usual, British politics today tries to do its best to ape what is happening in the colonies.


From → Life, News, Writing

One Comment
  1. Pat permalink

    The Romans are the same. Some people describe the French and the Spanish as arrogant. Both had empires, the former included us at various points. The Greeks too. The Romans are a great example, although they, and the Greeks, are a more ancient form of ourselves. My Classics teacher used to say about the Romans ” How are the mighty fallen”. We all the loved the ancient Romans. We got her point..

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