A vote for hope

7 Jun

compassion

Tomorrow the United Kingdom votes for its next government in what may be the most important election in my lifetime. The democratic system in the Western world has seen some shocks in the last twelve months – and perhaps this time the shock may be one that benefits this planet and moves us forward rather than taking us backward into darker days.

So far I have stayed quiet, watching what others have been saying, taking note of other people’s opinions.. and hoping and praying.

This time, I will be voting Labour. Not particularly because I want to vote Labour – it will be the first time I have, as I have usually favoured voting outside of the two party system – but because I am choosing to vote against a government lacking in compassion, in love, in those shared values that make us human. I am choosing to vote for a future where there is hope, rather than one of despair. And for me, Labour show me the possibility of that future, whereas a vote for the Conservatives is a vote for a return to the dark ages of modern politics.

For too long, this government have chosen to support the wants of the few over and against the needs of the many. Their approach to the NHS, to the disabled, to the disadvantaged, to the elderly, has been inhumane. Theresa May’s willingness to tear up the Human Rights Act – a bill of human rights that is one of this country’s proudest achievements – is irresponsible and dangerous, and would take humanity back centuries.

Their protection of the rights of the few, prioritised so heavily over the needs of the many, is anti-humanity and actually works against the prosperity of the nation as a whole. They gamble the future of this nation and the future of its people to line the pockets of a few powerful individuals.

We are ‘threatened’ with a Labour party that would apparently ‘take us back to the seventies’. And perhaps we need to remember those days. Those were the days when we had a National Health Service that worked. A police force that was respected. Where we were still grateful to be a country that was no longer at war. Where the ordinary people were finding their voice.

I have nothing against people becoming prosperous. I cheer on those who become successful. But I do stand up against those who use the power that wealth brings to take more and more for themselves while they forget the simple values of kindness, mercy, love, compassion.
In our continual pursuit of wealth we have forgotten that money is there to be used, not to be owned. We have forgotten that people matter. We have fallen prey to the thought that power is in the hands of the wealthy, the elite. We have listened to those who have the most to lose and to those who control the media that tells us what we should think. Our attention has been diverted to a false enemy when the actual enemy and danger to our humanity is far closer to home.

We have an opportunity in this election to vote for our true values. To vote to take humanity forward, not backward. To vote for love, compassion, hope, integrity. To vote for this country to be an example of what a nation can be – a demonstration to the world of what is possible when a country looks to what it can bring to the world.

So when I rock up at the polling station to vote tomorrow, I will definitely vote with my head. I will vote with my gut. I will certainly vote with my heart. And I will vote with hope that we can change our future.

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

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I don’t just dance

25 Apr

fight to dance

There’s a post going round called ‘I don’t just dance’. A photo of a dancer obviously letting go and letting the dance flow through her.

And it goes on to explain how she doesn’t just dance – she performs. She stops feeling sad. She loses the pain. She watches the world disappear. She tears down walls. She lets go. She smiles.

And that’s good. And every time I dance with someone, I want her to feel just a little bit of that. That’s why I dance, I think.. to bring a little bit of joy into someone else’s world. I want her to feel like the most graceful person in the world – to let the outside world drop away, for those four minutes (or possibly seven, when it’s one of those tracks when the guitarist just won’t give up until the bass player walks off stage or the drummer throws his sticks down). I want her to feel happy, and joyful, and elegant, and inspired, and beautiful, and alive. I want her to feel, at least for those three or four minutes, like a fabulous dancer.

But in the magic world of partner dance, we have to work hard to make the magic happen…while we might appear cool, calm and collected –we might appear in control…we’re actually just trying to hold it together to make it through the next track. And it made me think that picture only tells half the story.

So I’ll tell you what’s REALLY going on in the mind of your typical lead…

 

She said “yes”. Perhaps it would have been easier if she’d said “no” because now I actually have to deliver.

OK. Remember your technique. Get the connection right. Shoulderblade. Arm. Hand. Just the right amount of tension. Not quite got the connection on my arm. That’s OK. We’ll fix it as we go. I can work with this…

Calm. Relax. No need to move too soon. Get your connection right. Hold on. What do you mean, “Relax”? I have four minutes of dancing to fill and right now I think I might have forgotten everything I ever learned. Oh my god this is going to be a disaster…

What on earth is this track? I have never heard this before. What’s going on? Where’s the rhythm? There is no rhythm. OK. Follow the vocal. The vocal always works. Pause. No vocal, no movement. Silence is OK. Stillness is OK. Move again. Pay attention to the music. Pay attention to my partner.  Work with the mood of the track. So much to think about…

Eye contact. Remember eye contact. Try to keep the panic out of your eyes…

I wish these voices in my head would stop so I can just get on and enjoy the dance…

A break. Dammit. Missed the break. Now she’s wondering if I am actually listening to the music. She must think I am an idiot. Never mind. Try and get it right next time.

Technique. Always remember good technique. I lost connection there. Got it back. It’s all good.

Any chance of a change in the music? Please? Whoever wrote it. Must be Ed Sheeran. Everything seems to be by Ed Sheeran at the moment. PLEASE let there be a change. Up tempo. Down tempo. I don’t mind, just change something cos I really have run out of ideas. Is she bored yet? She must be bored by now. Does she look bored? Is she enjoying this…?

Dammit. Missed another break. Pay attention to the music. WHERE ON EARTH has the vocal gone…?

Instrumental break. OK, we can change this a bit. Oh, for goodness sake, don’t follow the guitar. Never follow the guitar solo. Even the guitarist doesn’t know what’s coming next, so how on earth can I work that out and then communicate ‘widdley-widdley-twang’ to my partner…?

Harmonica?! For heaven’s sake, how am I meant to dance to a harmonica solo..?

Phew. Vocal’s back. She’s singing in my ear now. Actually, that’s quite pleasant. Resist the temptation to make it a duet. Bit more energy here.. no no no, don’t go out to extension, you idiot. You’re going to start flailing around like a spider on rollerskates. Wrap her back in. Nice neat transition…

Oh my god. Must try not to be inappropriate. She’ll think I’m a complete weirdo. Perhaps I should just stay at extension. No, relax, you got this…

Break! Got it! Oh yeah baby we are so cool. Smug look…

Let’s try some travel and a pivot turn..and.. whoops. That didn’t go quite as I planned. Must work harder on preparation before moving next time. Never mind, just segue into something else, look all calm and confident, and she’ll never suspect a thing…

She must be bored by now. Is she enjoying this dance? She probably thinks I’m a complete doofus. Oh, god, let her be enjoying this dance…

Getting ready for a dramatic ending now… prep a nice little drop and… oh no, the keyboard player’s just gone off on one again. Dramatic ending #2 coming up… nice little lean… and it’s over…

Smile. Say thank you. Realise that actually, that was a really good dance. Murmur “that was fabulous, thank you” because actually – it was…

Try and get heartbeat back to normal resting pace…

 

And we come and do this for FUN?

It seems to me that when a dance works, it is one of the most sublime, awesome, incredible experiences on the planet. And we live for that moment. We might not be expecting it every time but when it happens… it happens. And trust me when I tell you – those moments only appear because we’re working hard, both of us, to create them. In that moment. In class. In workshops. In the kitchen. Listening to music. Imagining. Dreaming. Creating.

And when we meet on the floor, and we give it our best shot, and fireworks race across the sky and heaven applauds our efforts… then it all becomes worthwhile. (It’s called artistic licence. Deal with it.)

And THAT’S why we face the terror, and the panic, and the insecurity, and the fear of getting it wrong.. because most of the time.. it’s fabulous. And some of the time.. it’s incredible.

 

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

 

Original picture, in case you missed it:

dance

Only for geniuses

13 Dec

An algebra lesson from Timmy. Because I love you. And I want to stay your friend.

2016 has been a year of shocks and surprises, and I for one will be glad to see it over. I am hoping and praying that one trend will disappear next year – the horseshoe/burger/beer mathematics puzzle. Because every time I see one of these I am drawn to look at it and dismayed to find out… you’re still damn well getting it wrong!

Now, first off.

If you title your post "only for genius’s" then I will find you. I will hunt you down. And I will take away your apostrophe key until you can use it properly.

There. That’s that out of the way.

So…

I hear a lot of people complain that they never use the algebra they were taught at school. This is very clear, looking at the answers we’re getting…but in fact you are using algebra, and you’re doing it in your head. Go you!

(Now, a caveat. I am not a mathematician. I have however got a degree in physics and electronics, including semiconductor physics, nuclear physics and particle theory. I have therefore done more algebra and arithmetic than you can shake an abacus at.)

If you apply the mathematical rules correctly, you will always arrive at one consistent answer. This answer will, in fact, be wrong. But we will look at that in a minute. Let’s try and find the answer you’re ‘supposed’ to get if you are a ‘genius’.

These puzzles always seem to take a similar form.

Line One:

Line one is something like

horse + horse + horse = 30.

This is like writing [a+a+a=x] or [3a=x]. Or [a=x/3]. Where x=30. So a=30/3. Which we all manage to solve to get ‘horse’ = 10.

So far so good. Your algebra is working. Awesome!

Line Two:

The next line is probably something like

horse + horseshoes + horseshoes = 18

This is writing [a + b + b = y], or [a+2b=y], where y=18 and a = 10 (from line one)

So [2b=y-a], so [b=(y-a) / 2] , or [b=(18-10)/2]

Which would make ‘horseshoes’ = 4

So far so good. Your algebra is holding up nicely, even if you’re actually solving this in your head. It’s still algebra.

Line three

Same again. Something like

Horseshoes – boots = 2

We used b to represent the horseshoes, and a to represent the horse. If c represents the boots then…

[b-c=z], or [c=z-b] – which for us is [4-c=2], which makes c (boots, remember) = 2

You probably did that in your head too..

Line four

This is where it all goes to hell in a handbasket. There are two little tricks in here that mean you’ll probably get it wrong. Line four is something like

Boot + Horse x horseshoe = ?

Trick one. The first thing you might miss is that there’s only one boot, and only one horseshoe. So when boots=2, boot (singular) must be 1. If horseshoes = 4, then horseshoe (singular) must be 2.

So that line becomes

1 + 10 x 2 = ?

Trick two. Now, the evil blighters want you to forget that you don’t do arithmetic from left to right. There’s a reason for this, and we will talk about it in a minute.

There’s an order to do these in. First off deal with the brackets. There aren’t any here.. and we’ll talk about that in a minute too.

Then do the division and the multiplication from left to right.

So that’s 10 x 2 = 20.

Now do the addition and subtraction from left to right.

So that’s 1+20=21.

Always. The absolute values may vary from puzzle to puzzle, and the horses might get replaced by hamburgers, but the rules are still the same.

TLDR:

Horse = 10
Horseshoe pair = 4
Boot pair = 2
=> Horseshoe =2
=> Boot = 1
1 + 10 × 2 = 21
(Calculated as 1 = (10 x 2) because you have to do things in the right order according to the rules of arithmetic.)

Now. Here’s the thing. If you were a REAL genius you’d have remembered that mathematics is a way of representing the real world in numbers and symbols. Which is why the rules exist and you do multiplication first.

And real geniuses want to make sure that there’s no room for getting things wrong, so we throw brackets in like there’s a sale at the bracket store.

So, in the real world, this puzzle might at the end mean

"Multiply the number of horseshoes per horse by the number of horses and you’ll get the number of horseshoes to buy…

Then add on the number of boots to buy and you’ll have the total number of things to bring home from the chandlery. "

We obviously have a large number of two legged horses and a peg legged cowboy, but who cares.

What you can’t meaningfully do is add the number of boots and the number of horses and multiply by a number of horseshoes. That’s craziness, unless you are in the habit of putting horseshoes on your boots.

AND… we’ve assumed that a picture of two horseshoes is equal to twice as many as a picture of one horseshoe. But that’s only an assumption. In reality we worked out what the value of the symbol ‘horseshoes’ meant but not what the symbol ‘horseshoe’ meant. It might be different. (While a ‘W’ looks like two ‘V’s together, it’s a different symbol, remember. This is no different)

So the only real and true answer to these puzzles is ‘it’s meaningless’ until we know what things represent and what the symbols mean. If they mean anything.

Can we stop posting these now? Please?

It’s just air. Until you need it.

9 Sep

0097281_coverimage_1227961_BikePunctureKit_rex_jkt

Regular readers will know that I like to take time out to go camping for a few days in the summer just to clear my head and think about what’s coming up. Regular readers will also know that I had my motorcycle stolen, which rather limited my plans. And my son took his tent back up to Edinburgh, which left me tentless.

So, what to do? The obvious answer, of course, is to cycle 50 klicks to Rutland Water, stay overnight in the open and then cycle back. What do you mean, that’s not obvious? It’s obvious to ME!

I got off to a late start, mostly by messing around doing stuff that didn’t need doing. Finally I had a bag packed with the stuff I thought I might need – but not so much stuff that I couldn’t get it in a backpack. Probably not the RIGHT stuff though. And off I went. A mile out and the puncture I had just repaired started to fail. I cycled home, since that’s where things like sinks full of water are. (To check where the leak is, for those who haven’t done this before). Puncture repaired, I set out again.

There are a LOT of hills between Oundle and Oakham. I have mentioned this before, but I feel that it is important to mention it again.

670px-Mend-a-Puncture-in-a-Bike-Tire-Step-6-Version-3Round about 30 kilometers out, the repair failed again. But I had brought a spare inner tube! Ta-Da! I fitted the tube and set off again, conscious that time was against me. By the time I reached Hambleton peninsula, my goal, it was getting dark… which means I had no real idea where I was setting up camp. I decided a bench overlooking the reservoir would be ideal, although I was keen that the sheep didn’t disturb my repose in the night.

Rutland Water is a very spooky, quiet body of water. The water is quiet, tranquil, ruffled only by the wind. Somewhere under there lie abandoned villages, fields and farms. On the peninsula in the middle it is almost eerily silent, the only noise being the lap of water on the shore, and the occasional hoot of an owl.

I settled myself down, lit a fire and boiled some water for coffee, as I watched the moon set over the water. Above me the stars came out, and I was treated to a beautiful display of stars set against a gentle veiling of clouds. I stretched out on the bench and gazed peacefully up into the darkness, letting the quiet and the solitude soak into me, bringing a sense of true peace and calm, as I snuggled into my sleeping bag. Memo for next time – if you have a shaved head, bring a beanie.

As I dozed I was suddenly shocked awake by awareness of a presence next to me. I am not sure which one of us was more surprised – me or the deer that had wandered up to check out the strange apparition in the darkness. Startled, it scurried off into the forest, and I settled down to sleep as best I could. This is not particularly easy when you’re 5’10” and the bench is something short of 5’, but stuffing my feet out the end solved that problem. Benches also tend to be slatted. This is not comfortable, so I began my usual approach of rotating like a washing machine until sleep overcame me. I woke a lot in the night, and watched the progress of the stars across the sky. Finally something like sensible sleep gripped me, although by this time I was completely buried in my sleeping bag…

…which was why I didn’t notice the rain that started around 5am. I scurried to collect my stuff together, by which time I was wet and the rain was over. So I sat and watched day break over the water, the sky gradually lightening as the sun rose behind me, painting my vision with bold strokes of blue and gold, red and yellow, orange and grey.

Time for breakfast. A 6km ride into Oakham, and I hit Costa just after it opened. I debated buying another inner tube (somewhat seduced by the idea of self repairing tubes), having used my spare, but decided not to bother. Of course, this would prove to be the wrong choice. I mean.. I have a repair kit with me – and for heaven’s sake, my tyres are lined with Kevlar! 

Suitably refreshed, I set off to circumnavigate the reservoir. And around 10km into THAT, my earlier poor decision making skills bore evil fruit, as I got another puncture. Undeterred, I had puncture repair equipment with me and I set to fixing the problem, while I was overtaken by all the cyclists I had jauntily whizzed past on the way. This puncture was not going to be easy, as it was too close to the valve, and I had to surrender. I could return to Oakham, or walk on to the cycle hire shop on the North Shore. I decided to press on, and was confronted with a 5 km walk with a grumpy bike.

Finally arriving at the hire place, the sales assistant and I decided that given my luck so far, the purchase of an extra spare would be advisable. This proved to be one of the better decisions of the day.

New tube fitted, I rode off – the exertion of the previous day now starting to take its toll (and, come to think of it, earlier rides in the week). All I really wanted to do is to head home, which (probably due to the aforementioned hills) is not really a straight line affair. Choosing not to duel with lorries and BMW drivers on the major roads, the only options were to zigzag home through pretty little villages.

I may have mentioned the hills. But I feel it’s worth mentioning them again.

I decided on a shortcut. You can already tell that this isn’t going to end well. Part way through the shortcut, another puncture struck. I had to use my precious spare, still a good 35k from home, to fix this, as I couldn’t actually locate the hole. At this point, every single bump in the road felt like the tyre was going down again, shredding my nerves with every jolt.

I was now hungry and thirsty.. I began an approach of zigzagging from village shop to village shop, buying water and snacks to keep my flagging muscles moving.

Finally, the welcome sight of Oundle church spire hove into view. Redoubling my efforts I soared home, incident free, and collapsed. Until I remembered that I have to cycle out to feed my son’s animals later….

But lesson for the week… having declared a desire to become more intuitive, perhaps it is wise to listen when your intuition says ‘buy an inner tube’.

Crooked Trails

19 Jul

canyon bridge

A friend of mine sent me this quote many years back, and I have always loved it – and tried to live my life by it. Until recently, I had not realised it was part of a larger quote, which really sent fingers of excitement running up and down my spine when I read it. And I thought you might enjoy it too!

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you — beyond that next turning of the canyon walls.”

(Edward Abbey)

Now that’s a huge and fabulous dream….

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

 

PS I’m helping a friend out with some renovation work at the moment, so much as I would like to post, it’s proving a bit tricky! Normal service (whatever that is) will be resumed as soon as possible!

Today, I grieve

24 Jun

13511993_10208317059696658_2664627884231210136_n

The referendum is over, and we have chosen by the slimmest of margins to stroll down one leg of the bifurcated trousers of time. We will never know how things would have worked out if we had stayed in the European Union – but we’re definitely going to find out what happens now we’ve chosen to leave. My newsfeed is full of posts from people saying “right, the decision is made, let’s pull together and step into the future”. Curiously, these mostly seem to be from those who backed the winning horse, who threw their lot in with those who would vote ‘Leave’. And that’s OK.

Step into the future we must. Hopefully with love, with compassion, with honour, with integrity. Hopefully with a sense of our place in history and our place in the world. And, yes, with a sense of hope and of possibility – to make out of this the best possible world for us, for our children, and for humanity.

But for me, and for those of us who voted to remain, it is not yet time to look to the future. It is not yet “time for us to stop being afraid of what could go wrong, and start being positive about what could go right”. There will be time enough for that.

This is serious stuff. Consider: if we had chosen to remain, then those who voted ‘leave’ would have had to mourn a world that could have been – a whole raft of possibilities that never got born. But for us, we have to say goodbye to a world that we have been nurturing for forty years. This is a world we have been proud to be part of, and now it is to be torn away from us, to be replaced with something different. And I grieve that passing.

For me I have to look at the possibility of my son soon living in a different country – not because he moved, but because Scotland will choose to have a second referendum and this time they WILL leave the UK to be part of Europe. I have to face the possibility that my other son might choose to seek his fortune in a land that holds his personal values more dearly than this one. Both of these men consider themselves human first and foremost. And, selfish man that I am, I fear those future possibilities. And today, I am sad.

I have friends who face uncertainty in relationships that flourished when movement across Europe was easier. I have friends who have to deal with business uncertainty and the possibility of their business failing – of losing their livelihood and of an uncertain future.

I fear that the country has fallen into the hands of those who value division. As a friend of mine said “All my life I have striven for inclusivity. To welcome, to include, to share with, to enjoy the diversity, to learn from and to be part of one race – the human race. Who are these people who feel that division, hatred, spite and greed is the way forward??”

Our children deserve unity and peace, the world my father fought for. The world I believe we can have. And yet today it seems we have taken a step backwards from that inclusivity, from that sense of a united family of humanity. Perhaps it will arise in a different form. I can only hope. And pray.

And we seem to have betrayed our children. It seems that as a nation we have stood in the present, looked back at the past, and decided to go backwards – to try and go back to a world that no longer exists. Yet in this referendum our children have stood in the present, have looked at the future and wanted to go forward into a brave new world of inclusivity and co-operation. And we have chosen not to allow them that.

All of my beliefs about the future, about how we are better off part of the European Union, about the unity of man, all my dreams of a better and kinder place – those dreams and beliefs have not disappeared because of the vote. Yet today I mourn their passing.

There will be time enough to build something together. There will be time to look to the future with hope, with courage, with honour and with integrity. We are all in this together, and we will see what the future brings.

But today, I grieve.

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

The future and Europe

8 Jun

eu_flag_flag5

I’ve been watching the UK Referendum with some considerable interest and concern, as you might expect. (For my international readers and anyone who’s been hiding out under a rock for the last couple of years – the UK is about to hold a referendum on whether to remain in the European Union (which we’ve been part of for 40 years) or whether to leave).

I’ve watched the various arguments unfold in the media and online, and if I am honest, at times I’ve been swayed by arguments in both directions. I’m not a man to argue figures, and whether we will or will not be worse off if we leave. That’s not the point, for me.

I do remain unconvinced by the arguments about the amount we contribute to the EU and how much we get back.. whether it’s £350M or £160M after rebates and contributions to UK projects. For me, whatever club or society we are part of, whether it’s a chess club or a buying syndicate, we pay money in to get benefits out. I believe the benefits we get are worth far, far more than the relatively small contribution we pay in.

The arguments about the European Court of Human Rights – let’s get rid of that one early. Leaving Europe will not affect our membership and subscription to the ECHR. And it must not. Sure, the ECHR may occasionally get it wrong. What court doesn’t? But let’s not forget that we were the country instrumental in setting this up after years of war crimes and atrocities – it’s something that we as a country and as Europeans need to be proud of.

Fears over open borders? We are an island, for heaven’s sake. If people get here, they get here by sea or by air, or through a well policed tunnel. We are in a better position than anywhere else in Europe (apart from Ireland of course) to police our borders. And know this – our country is made richer by immigrants who pay more in taxes than they take in benefits. People who contribute to the quality of our lives by taking jobs as doctors and nurses – who are prepared to study and work hard to succeed. And thank them for doing inexpensive jobs well. Your cheap hand car wash? Thank the Lithuanians. Inexpensive vegetables? Thank the Poles. My local chip shop is run very capably by a lovely couple of Romanians who have that opportunity because they were prepared to work the long hours that it needs to be successful.

I am sure that we are subject to some ridiculous laws and decisions by bureaucrats in Europe. But the European Union actually IS a democracy. European laws have to be passed by European elected members. We’re not innocent of this ourselves, you know this – in the UK we have a whole series of bureaucrats in power that we didn’t actually elect. You thought ‘Yes Minister’ was fiction? Hmm…

If there is a real problem with the EU seeming to have too much power it is that we as a nation are being ineffective at the negotiating table. And if we’re crap at negotiating for what we want as a nation now – then we’re going to be even worse if we leave. Switzerland took over ten years to negotiate an agreement with a Europe that was keen to reach an agreement. You think Europe will be keen to negotiate with a country that’s chosen to turn its back?

And let’s make sure that we’re voting on the right things – let’s not make this a proxy vote against a disastrously selfish and ill-advised government. This decision won’t go away in a few years, like this Conservative government surely will…

We have the right of veto on European legislation, and contrary to popular opinion, the vast majority of UK legislation is just that – legislation that we created in the UK. Only a small minority of our laws are actually created in the EU.

Yes, there are some stupid things that the  European Union does. But we’re part of that problem – we can’t just blame it on ‘them’ – we need to work to make the EU more effective, more efficient, and, yes, perhaps more democratic.

The EU freedom of movement doesn’t contribute to terrorism, by the way. You can’t argue that it does, in any sensible or logical way. So stop it.

I’ve seen posts from people who seem to blame everything that’s gone wrong in this country the last forty years on the EU – as if we can lay the blame for everything at the feet of someone else – and then make it go away by leaving the EU. That’s crazy. It’s like blaming everything that’s gone wrong since the 70s on the moon landings or on the release of The Sweet’s “Blockbuster”.

It seems that every reasoned and rational report I can find says that we as a nation will be worse off financially, practically and with less of a say in international politics.. so tell me again why we’re doing this?

I’m certainly not convinced by that jingoistic sabre rattling that says ‘We are an island nation – part of Europe yet separate from it’. We are truly an incredible nation, a nation justifiably proud of our achievements. And that means we can hold our heads high in a European Union that is more than the sum of its constituent nations. The only reason we can continue to be seen as great is if we continue to play full power on a global level – and leaving Europe will significantly reduce the platform from which we speak.

The arguments weave backwards and forwards – sometimes (but increasingly rarely) I find myself seduced by the arguments of those who would leave the EU… and yet I find myself drawn back to the logic and rationality of the arguments of those who urge us to stay. The clearest thinkers that I know, and the clearest thinkers that I hear from, seem to be agreed that the only sane and sensible choice is to remain in the EU. None – not a single one – of the economic arguments, or the debates on sovereignty from those who would see us leave seem to stack up or to stand up to close scrutiny. They seem to be based on wishful thinking and hopefulness, on fear and on misplaced national pride, rather than on truth.

But that’s not the point, for me.

The world has changed. Arguing on the basis of what was, forty years ago, is irrelevant. At a global level we face threats far more coherent and dangerous than petty squabbling about trivia. We need to wake up and see where we’re heading at a global level… because we’re all in this together, folks. There’s no way off this ball of rock that’s hurtling through space.

And that means that many decisions can no longer be made at a national level. We need to resolve the energy question. We need to resolve global warming. We need to deal with the fact that our resources are disappearing (ever wondered what happens to the helium we gaily use in our party balloons – and what else we use it for?) We need to deal with global security… ‘national security’ is pretty much irrelevant nowadays.

We need to start to work together on a global level. That means being part of something bigger. And right now, for the UK, that ‘something bigger’ is the European Union. We bring our strength, our talents, our wisdom, our insights, our resources to bear on the issues that face humanity. We allow ourselves to look outwards, not inwards.

And this is a time to look forward, not back. This is a time to look towards a future based on co-operation and co-existence, about forging a future together where we collaborate to create something better for all of us. Being part of Europe makes that easier, not harder. Being part of Europe allows us to contribute at the highest level.

The European Union is a demonstration of what’s possible when sovereign states start to work together. It shows that different countries, with different cultures, different priorities, different objectives can work together. That’s pretty much unique, people. And we helped create that. We are part of that. Let’s not run away from the task at hand because it’s a bit tough today. Or because we’re afraid. Because global co-operation is the future.

This is what Winston Churchill had to say when he addressed the Congress of Europe in 1948:

“A high and a solemn responsibility rests upon us here … If we allow ourselves to be rent and disordered by pettiness and small disputes, if we fail in clarity of view or courage in action, a priceless occasion may be cast away for ever. But if we all pull together and pool the luck and the comradeship – and we shall need all the comradeship and not a little luck … then all the little children who are now growing up in this tormented world may find themselves not the victors nor the vanquished in the fleeting triumphs of one country over another in the bloody turmoil of war, but the heirs of all the treasures of the past and the masters of all the science, the abundance and the glories of the future.”

I’ve looked at the issues. I’ve looked at the pros and the cons. I’ve talked to people that I trust. And I’ve discovered that I do care. Passionately. Absolutely. It’s time to stand up and decide that we’re not going to be dictated to by Europe any more. We’re not going to look out across the English Channel and see them taking from us all the time.

It’s time to realise that being part of a Europe that collaborates, lives in peace with its neighbours and has the vision to contribute to the world stage at the highest possible levels is important. It’s time to decide that we’re going to stand up and make Europe even better, even more relevant, even more influential. And we only get that with a seat at the table.

For me, the future is global. The future is humanity working together for the benefit of all humanity. So let’s stand up and be part of that. Let’s help shape the future. Because that way, we all win.

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

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