Still European

Many years ago, as a family we drove to Italy where we had a great holiday. On the way there and back we passed through France, Germany and Switzerland. Following the freedom we had experienced in our travels, I recall saying on our return that “we left home as Brits and came back as Europeans”. My citizenship has not changed, in spite of what our country decided last week.

Below is my post from Facebook, from the day before the vote. It was sad that not more of my fellow citizens agreed with me.

Our European marriage is not over yet!
In the 1970s I lived in Small Heath, in the East of Birmingham. Whenever I had the time and could afford the bus fare I used to take a trip to Coventry. I loved sitting in the new cathedral. I also walked around the ruins of the old one, learning a bit about how it had been bombed by the Germans.

Then, one day I remember hearing that Tangerine Dream had performed in the cathedral, which I thought as odd since they were German. It taught me something about forgiveness and reconciliation. (Later, this was helped by a talk from the South African anti-racist activist, Revd Basil Manning at Woodbrook Christian College, Selly Oak. He explained that it was not enough to say sorry; one had to do sorry).

Life carried on.

It was not until the film Saving Private Ryan came out that I understood something about World War II. That year the Poppy meant something.

This morning, while doing my Hospital Chaplaincy round, a patient asked me how I was going to vote. I told him I had all along been a Remain supporter. He said “me too”. He then began to tell me about WWII. He explained how we had obliterated Dresden, killing some 70,000 people, when we didn’t need to.

So for me the fact that we belong to the same community as the Germans (and many others) means a lot. I have said that maybe one day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, (free) Kashmir…would similarly come together.

The European Community may not be perfect. But its the best we’ve got. Its a longterm relationship which has somethings that need working on but that is not reason enough for a divorce.

Let us stay together.

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