Britain and Europe, what I think

Being French, I certainly qualify as a European. I also happen to have lived in Britain for the last 30 or 40 years. So I would think that the referendum  called by David Cameron concerns me.  Yet I am not entitled to take part, something I find rather upsetting.  At least, nobody is forbidding me to share my opinion about this unnecessary referendum.  And here it is.

I wonder whether Cameron now wonders what the hell got to him. Yes, we know, he wanted to prevent his party from spliting about the question of Europe.  Brilliant!  All he has managed to do is to split his country and by the same token, to  give voice to the extreme right, well represented by Nigel Farage and similar European parties such as the French National Front. Its leader, Marine Le Pen is even offering her views to the British people in a brochure that found its way to my door as, apparently, it is being distributed to every home in Britain and I must say, is better presented and a lot more to the point than the glossy brochure recently offered by the government. One more wobble, Mr Cameron!

You may have guessed: I am not in favour of Britain leaving the EU but I fear this may well happen. And when I say I fear, I mean it.  I can’t help thinking that leaving Europe would be disastrous – as, by the way, the whole world is telling Britain.  I am afraid the idea of leaving rests on nostalgia, nostalgia for an England now long gone, with its comfortable feeling of superiority the Empire perhaps justified … many years ago.  But the Empire is no more.

Willingly or not, we live in a global world, and pretending that, by itself, Britain will be able to fight terrorism, ignore the current historical movements of population, face climate change and at the same time once again, conquer the world – for, I believe, this is the dream behind all the rhethoric – is nothing but an illusion – or a clever lie.  Today Britain doesn’t need to conquer the world; it needs to work with it in harmony.  Dreaming of the past has never brought the past back, it only hides  reality.  At our peril.

As for the problems caused by immigration, many years ago, before Britain became a member of the European Community, I happened to be in Birmingham.  To my amazement, it was as if I had travelled miles away.  I was not in Britain anymore but somewhere in Bangladesh: all around were women dressed in colourful saris, men with white caps on their heads, stalls offering vegetables I had never seen before.  Among  all this, an old English lady looked lost.  She had lived here all her life but she didn’t recognise the world she lived in and I felt sorry for her.

Immigration is something the whole world has to face right now.  Isolating itself won’t help Britain and it  certainly won’t solve a problem which is global and involved the whole planet.


A Step in the Journey

It took me by surprise.  I had not expected a major operation to be such a shock.  There I was not so much in pain but knocked out, the body traumatised, unable to move except with the help of a nurse, .

Now back home after having spent time recovering at friends’,  I feel the need to share the experience of these last three weeks. For it has been and still is, I believe, a transformative experience, mysterious and subtle and as such difficult to put into words.

During those days when I rested, shifting between sleep and wakefulness,  I found myself without thoughts and wants, in a space of stillness, in need for only nourishment, of food and silence, a Silence that became filled with Grace, Light and Love. This too I had not expected. On one level, I was going through what could only be called a difficult time, on another level, I was being submerged with a Love so overwhelming that it brought tears of gratitude to my eyes.

Now what next?  I have no idea. Life is full of surprises and I can only wait.




The Battle about Europe

It seems that those in favour of leaving the European Union as well as those in favour of remaining in it, can only think in negative terms, something I find rather frustrating.

According to the advocates of leaving the Union, the EU has stolen British sovereignty, and as a result, “our national interest” has been dirsregarded. I find the argument surprising since our global world doesn’t care much about national interest. When it comes to economic policies and political decisions, we can be sure that the corporation, the multinationals, are really the ones who pull the strings.

As for the advocates of remaining in the EU, all they can suggest is that exiting will bring chaos, loss of employement, in short, misery to the country.

No one, it seems, is mentioning the billions in subsidies British farmers are getting from Europe, nor the numerous benefits the British citizens enjoy thanks to Britain being a member of the EU, such as increased maternity leave, protection of employement, cheaper air travel, freedom to live and work across Europe, access to European health services (not a small advantage!), cross border policing etc …

At least one politician has noticed: Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the Scottish Independence party, who has recently remarked that David Cameroun ‘s only argument was fear, and that it was the way to defend his position, which is to stay in the EU.

Can’t those who are supposed to lead and think – politicians, writers, journalists – inform the British people rather than throw insults at each other or raise panic? I am wondering.

A Place to Find Inspiration

My publisher recently introduced me to a website that makes finding inspiration easy for all of us. Each day, features one Inspirational Luminary who answers the question: If today were your last day and you had only 500 words to leave to humanity, what have you learned that matters?
This daily wisdom takes but a minute to read, yet acts as a conscious reminder to that spark within each of us, rekindling our fire within.
Today my inspiration is offered on for all to read. You will also be able to browse through the wisdom of more than 1000 other Inspirational Luminaries.

You might find that this daily input does make a difference  in your life.

The Missing Hormone

The title of an article, itself based on a study published in the journal Science about prairie voles, recently attracted my attention. ‘Prairie voles,’ it said, ‘display empathy when their friends suffer.’ The article was illustrated with two cuddly voles grooming each other. According to the study, the prairie voles would console one another by grooming when one individual is observed suffering from painful distress.

The word empathy brought back to my mind the young Jewish man who, at the end of the Second World War, attended the Nuremberg trials of the most infamous Nazis. For weeks, he spent time with them, interrogating them, trying to find the roots of evil. In the end, his conclusion was simple: evil is born out of the absence of empathy.

Now, the study mentioned above found that there exists a link beween the feeling of empathy and the presence in the brain of the hormone oxytocin, sometimes called the ‘love hormone’.

Clearly the Nazis were totally lacking this hormone. But could we apply this discovery to those who, right now, also suffer from a similar deficiency: the serial killers who torture and massacre all over the world?  I can’t help imagining the jihadists of Isis, or the so-called soldiers of Boko Haram or … the list is endless, being injected with this love hormone. Not easy, you will say but it might be worth trying, if only on the few that can be reached.  Just an idea!