“Uncertainty” is talked about everywhere.
“It’s an uncertain world, we are stronger together” say the pro-EU campaigners. Last week a teenager campaigning for Remain EU told me that the world is unsafe and we need to stay in the EU, there’s too much uncertainty if we leave.
Interestingly no-one defends the EU. Even pro-EU people don’t believe in it. The most we see is a list of benefits, which could just as easily have been implemented by an independent UK Parliament. Clean beaches, maternity rights, limits on working hours etc.. it’s always a long list, with nothing that is unique to the EU.
So, why are so many people campaigning to stay in an institution in which they have no belief? Because of their fear of “uncertainty“.
The future is uncertain – good
The future is uncertain. It can be nothing else. The question is how we mould it to our benefit. Our future will be determined by two things: how we choose to shape it and how we react to events. If we have a clear understanding of what we believe in and a desire to act, the future can be what we want it to be.
This uncertainty is good. Collective endeavour with no guaranteed outcome is testing. It would define us and give collective meaning to our experience.
Events will create challenges and opportunities. Whether we benefit or suffer will be determined by our level of self-belief, clarity of thinking and collective purpose.
Either history makes us or we make history and we re-make ourselves in the process.
We are living in bizarre times. All over the world people have never been as free and as wealthy as they are now. World-wide life span has doubled, child mortality has been cut by three-quarters and per capita income has multiplied ninefold in little more than a century. In two generations, whole populations have moved from rural poverty to relative wealth in towns and cities, including 600 million people in China. We have un-precedented computing power which is enabling diseases to be de-coded and cures found. As a human race, we have more potential than at any time in human history.
Let’s remember that the Victorians built 6,000 miles of railway in 18 years nearly 200 years ago and we are still living with much of the infrastructure that they built. In the 1970’s we developed the fastest passenger train in the world and we still use it 40 years later. We developed the fastest passenger jet with the French and we haven’t replaced it.
We have lost our sense of adventure, our spirit. Why don’t we look at our massive potential and yearn to shape the future positively? On energy production, on trade, on innovation, on social policies, on relationships with people across the world who are developing their societies, 0n how we live.
No. We don’t believe in ourselves and we mistrust the people around us. It’s safer to ask someone else to run things for us. The EU seems fairly benign. It’s a safe bet. Why not? Play it safe. Outsource it to a higher body. Certainty.
Ironically, the EU is no safe bet
The EU may well not exist in the not-to-distant future. The free movement of people is being under-mined by the erection of borders across Europe; the Euro crisis is a lurking shadow waiting to return; EU foreign policy has led to a disaster in Ukraine; the people of Greece will continue to suffer; the Czechs are thinking of leaving and Serbia is thinking twice about joining. People all over Europe are voting for anti-EU parties because the EU is a contemptuous distant elite without a plan.
So, we could vote to stay in an EU that stops being a multi-national institution in any meaningful sense. It is unable to respond coherently to each crisis. As it fails to relate to the needs of people in different countries, it becomes either increasingly authoritarian (Austerity in Greece, Portugal and Spain) or chaotic (refugee crisis and Ukraine).
Let’s not forget the peoples of Europe are not the same thing as the EU government. There has never been a Europe-wide newspaper or TV channel watched by Europeans as Europeans. There are no Europe-wide political parties. The EU has stifled any sense of being European, not spawned it.
Why can’t we create a new politics – one that is optimistic, progressive and drives greater wealth through-out the world?
A good starting point would be some proper teenage spirit – experimentation, adventure and discovery. Knowing that you have a full life ahead of you. It’s uncertain – good. Because that’s what makes you feel alive when you’re a teenager.
Let’s have some real teen spirit. Embrace uncertainty.
© 9th March 2016 Andy Shaw