You may scoff. You may snort in derision. How preposterous, you may shriek, to dare link Siegfried Sassoon’s joyous relief at the end of the World War I with the cessation of Brexit conflict. And, moreover, you’ll mutter through clenched teeth, ‘Premature!’ Does this chap have no idea of how the slow grinding cogs of ‘democratic dictatorship’ are designed to eliminate flashes of insight?
I’ll agree it may take a just little longer before all combatants lay down their arms, but already the protagonists are sensing impending defeat — overwhelmed by a greater tide of humanity and concerted common sense. But we, the people, cannot afford to worry about the minutia of these next two weeks — there is a far greater future to be seized.
Yes, there may, I daresay, be a few folk concerned to seek justice for this embarrassing national humiliation, but we, the saviours, cannot afford to give priority to vengeance. If, in the aftermath, some settlement is needed still beyond restoration of due democratic processes, it can await some future Truth and Justice Commission but only when broadly acceptable leadership has been restored and the nation is on-track to regain its time-honoured respect.
We can surely agree that the last two years has taken its toll. There’s a massive financial reckoning, of course, but that is but nothing to the loss of reputation, goodwill, societal sanity and increased criminality. But, more positively, this turmoil has been hugely educative — opening fresh eyes to the delusions of outmoded economic and ideologically constrained thinking. And, now, that realisation has arrived at a critical moment.
Brexiteering propagandists have oft contended that, in these negotiations with Brussels, those cunning continentals would argue until the eleventh hour before reaching any settlement. Now, way past that eleventh hour, it is the Brexiteering bullies who are grasping at compromising straws, post-rationalisations and backside protections. ‘Set our people free’ they plaintively call to those ‘Pharaohs of commission’ falsely and outrageously accused of capturing them. But in their next breath they fail to mention the biblical forty years of those liberated souls wandering in the wilderness.
But do not gloat — winning a war does not mean winning the peace. We must have real purpose for our glorious restoration. As we assume a new role we must with all humility make reparations for the insults and take on some leadership investment in issues that are far greater than local party politics and short term preferences.
Fortunately, we are being well served by young people. Fresh and creative minds have helped avert the worst of disasters and will now fuel our newfound role. Our role rises above the petty power plays of old-school politicians and will be intensely collaborative. We should not let great moments slip through our fingers, just because a few butter-fingered brethren have failed to grasp the concept of mutuality.
The Dean of St Paul’s (in 1624) saw the nation struggle through hard times. His sermon, ‘Meditation XVII’, reflected the daily toll of deaths and included the immortal words: “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”
His powerful insight that, regardless of any little local difficulty, we are all part of a wider humanity is really important now that our responses to climate change demand vastly greater and more urgent collaborative efforts. In the words of the ‘Song for the Climate’, “We Need to Wake Up/ We need to wise up/We need to open our eyes and do it Now! Now! Now!” With Brexit bumbling boringly along, young activists like Sweden’s Greta have sent sharp reminders to the supposed adults. It is not my future but that of my children and grandchildren that must deal with our legacy of limited vision.
How, today can I say all this? Is this not an extreme overdose of over optimistic wishful thinking? Is it any more than a gut feeling?
This, for me, is where it gets personal. Sure, I am no great (or imagined) authority. I speak for no one but my family and friends. But what has been happening within my body gives me the clearest of insights. Over the past six months (and probably far longer) my physical systems have struggled with internal conflicts. We all from time to time feel unwell — but generally we cope, we adapt, until such time (and often far too late) we seek help.
All bodies naturally produce steroids but in this case (I now learn) my immune systems have been at war trying to suppress these vital agents. Polymyalgia Rheumatica was increasingly making me disabled and in great pain throughout my body. Over these last three months I became wasted — until I was diagnosed and admitted as an emergency patient to the NHS Wessex Neurological Unit in Southampton University Hospital.
What followed, last week, was an impressive and brilliantly coordinated array of tests and analysis by our NHS’s finest medics. On Saturday I followed the twitter feeds of the great march I should have attended — and I Was Pain Free. I cannot now disassociate that newfound joyous relief and the uplifting spirits of those who trekked into London on our behalf.
How could some mad media Brexit bullies fear that their attending would induce a lynching? Nothing could be more unimaginable. Threats and hatred have all come from the ardent and deluded whose minds are closed to common sense.
One of the great benefits of languishing, hospitalized and unable to sleep, is the time you find to think and set aside the daily pressures of looming deadlines. Time enough to dig beneath the distracting surface layers of survival to rekindle a purpose, to sweep away those frenetic efforts that led us astray. My body, at war within itself, needed rebalancing before it was too late. I extend sympathy to those still struggling but, glory be, today my neurones are motoring and I’ve not (yet) run out of fuel.
Turn now, back to Seigfried, “The singing will never be done”.
We have a new purpose and yes all of this can be done mutually with our continental cousins. Minds can change. Minds are changing. Embarrassments can be faced. Be not afraid. Trust me — I’m not a politician. The mental health of an entire nation will (and must) be restored.
Related Material: Silicon Valley’s ‘Crime Scene’ — essential viewing for all who still believe in ‘respecting the referendum’. (This reference added 20/04/19)