Okay, normally my blogs are about spiritual stuff, but I believe that everything is spiritual really at its core, so I suppose in a way this is still a spiritual blog!
I want to explore some of the issues around “in” or “out” of the European Union.
A disclaimer from the start is that I am someone unsure at the moment which way I’m going to vote later on this month.
For me the issues that really matter are questions of justice, freedom, democracy and peace.
Justice and freedom.
When Boris and IDS (two pretty vile right wing millionaire Tories) are urging us to “take back power” and keen to scrap the Human Rights Act, I feel scared and am glad that Europe provides protection for us when our government needs to be called to account, challenged and over-ruled.
Yet there is a bit of cruelty within the EU that I don’t like, just look at how they treat Greece when they went bust, I worry that the EU is friend whilst the good (or goodish) times are happening, but their track record of helping when the proverbial hits the fan I believe has left them found wanting.
I worry about the rise of the hard right, with Austria narrowly missing out on electing a far right president borderline Fascist, Le Penn in France with her Front National party growing in support and other parties getting into power not just on an anti austerity programme but on a manifesto of blame of immigrants and Muslims.
I think when we look at Europe I think we need to be aware of the shadowy figures waiting in the wings. Europe is changing. Governments change. We are drawing together in closer unity –which is harder and harder to break free from- we need to ask not only do these people sitting around this table share our ideals and values, but do those who come after them?
I worry too about the unholy alliance in countries like France where the militant secularists and the far right who say to Muslim kids in schools “eat pork –or non halal- or go hungry” and Muslim women are banned from wearing their Burkas in public (now don’t get me wrong, I’d love to live in a world where a Burka didn’t exist, but even so, I’d still fight for people’s right to wear one).
It seems to me where justice needs to have courage the EU stays remarkably silent.
The question we need to ask is are the scales of justice even?
Is justice blind?
Even to those whose ideas we struggle with?
It seems to flex its muscles over Irish bakeries and other minor offenders whilst turning a blind eye to more institutionalised discrimination…
Does the EU side with the powerless over the powerful?
Does justice have her own teeth? As I fear she may need them in the future?
Which leads me on to my next question, if we need a court to protect us from Governments and business from exploitation, discrimination and protection of our basic rights, which I think we do.
If we want this court to have enough teeth to be able to call the big players to account then it itself needs to have accountability and ultimately answerable to the people they represent in a system that is seen to be fair and transparent.
Is the EU actually equipped and robust enough to survive the 21st century changing world, brave enough to be the EU we need not the EU that government and corporations want us to have… And can it handle power with integrity, honesty and transparency?