Welcome to Issue 49
As far as I can remember I have refrained from using the ‘B’ word so far in this column, but recent developments have forced me to end my resistance. ‘Brexit’ appears to be part of the phenomenon which has seen the rise to power of the far right sweeping across the globe. Angry people, fed up with austerity, social problems, precarious, low-quality employment and feeling let down by the political establishment, are turning to ‘hard’ men who use foreigners and immigrants as scapegoats and promise to make their nations great again.
It seems that, once more, we are failing to heed the harsh lessons of history. For the past half century or so we have been fortunate enough to live through the oil age which has enabled us to enjoy unprecedented growth, expansion and abundance. More significantly, it has helped the nations of Europe and America (albeit still waging war in other parts of the World) to live in peace for the first time in our history. However, now that the limits to growth are being reached and the system is bursting at the seams, the ruling elites are turning once more to the tried and tested methods of ‘divide and rule’. By exaggerating the issues which bring our tribal instincts to the fore, we become polarised into two factions – ‘patriots’ and ‘liberals’. We are then encouraged to carry on fighting amongst ourselves whilst those in power make off with most of the loot.
Since the financial crash in 2008, whilst we have been forced to tighten our belts and accept the loss of services the super-rich have considerably increased their already obscene wealth, and yet we find ourselves putting the blame on migrant families fleeing from poverty, persecution and war, or on our European neighbours. Parallels with the situations before the two World Wars are becoming stronger by the day and one wonders whether we are in grave danger of plunging yet again into the darkness.
My hope is that there are sufficient numbers of those who recognise the follies of tribalism/nationalism and the horrors of war; people who are committed to cultivating peace at all costs. We know that the main reason for the success of homo sapiens in surviving and multiplying has been our ability to collaborate and co-operate. We now know that nature does not rely primarily on the ‘survival of the fittest’ but instead on an almost infinite number of symbiotic relationships. Science now tells us what the great sages have known for so long; that we are all interconnected and interdependent. If we are to continue to survive and thrive rather than recreate hell on earth, it is imperative that this knowledge forms the basis of our lives moving forward. By respecting and tolerating other beliefs and cultures, by supporting and helping each other without discrimination, by working towards the well-being of everyone as part of the great human family, we give ourselves the best chance of prosperity, happiness and harmony.
We can all undertake this task right now, beginning with ourselves. If we are capable of finding inner peace, we will be far less likely to be in conflict with those around us. We will also be more effective in the broader task of helping to cultivate harmony within our communities. Can we help the groups that we work with to function more effectively together, to resolve differences, and to get on with each other? Can we initiate or join in with other projects to bring our community together?
I believe that Hornsea is already blessed with such projects, some of which are unique, and if built upon, give us the potential to be a pioneering town – a model for others to follow. We need to generate sufficient unity and cohesion to be in a position, no matter how tough things get, to resist tribalism and conflict, and to choose co-operation and solidarity; working together to ensure the well-being of everyone and to spread the message of peace.