History will judge, because it always does. And I’m not sure if it makes me happy or sad to contemplate the fact that I will not be around when the final verdict emerges on the wisdom of this country’s departure from the EU.
The people voted for it, and it was undeniably a good turnout at over 70%, but the difference between the votes cast for and against was less than 4% of the total, hardly an overwhelming majority for such a critically important decision.
Nevertheless, it was the decision of the people, and their decision is inviolate isn’t it? But I would guess that 95% or more of the population have not the slightest ability to judge whether the UK will be better off in or out of the EU – and that of course includes the 16 million or so who voted to remain. The majority wanted to leave for all sorts of reasons, and the minority wished to remain for a whole variety of different reasons. The vote was decided on ideological not practical lines.
We will be free of the Brussels bureaucracy, free of the £250 M weekly membership fee, free of the single market and the customs union, free of the rules and regulations and free to strike our own trade deals. But, pretty well all serious analyses say that the UK will be worse off, financially, afterwards.
Was it a fair vote? There were dirty tricks on one side and a lamentable failure to organize on the other. Undeniably the person who is our current prime minister has tremendous charisma, and quite possibly swung the balance. If the last election was in any sense a re-run of the referendum, by voting the Tories in with such a substantial majority, the people again, effectively, voted Leave … Or was it that the breathtakingly inept performance of the Labour leadership lost the election? After all, the majority of votes cast were for parties who supported remain …
Well, for better or worse, we leave today. There is much talk about ‘coming together’ and ‘healing the wounds’ but these wounds will take decades to heal. I for one am not reconciled to the situation and never will be. It was the wrong decision taken for the wrong reasons, and we will all be poorer as a result.
(With apologies to Clive James)
Last Christmas day the weather at Southwold was about as perfect as I have ever seen it. There were plenty of people on the beach and everyone was in a good mood, but the happiest individual by far was possessed of four legs and a tail. That dog was rushing up and down the sand, barking and wagging his/her tail so hard it seemed in danger of coming right off.
Likewise, some dogs let off the lead in the park where I walk regularly exhibit symptoms of such excitable joy that it is impossible not to feel good just watching them.
But dogs know nothing of the universe. Their world view is limited to where their next meal is coming from and who provides it and takes them for walks – and being grateful to that person. It is the secret of their happiness. They live for the moment, the next meal, the next walk and the joy of just being alive.
We, on the other hand – or some of us – agonize about the meaning of life. Are we, as modern science insists, simply the end result of evolution from primitive creatures which themselves evolved from the spontaneous generation of life leading back ultimately to the Big Bang? Or was Archbishop Ussher correct in his analysis of the Old Testament, where God created the universe and everything in it in six days in October 4004 BC? The latter has its own set of problems, but if the former appears to be correct, how can we believe that the wonders of the natural world together with the staggering human achievements in art and science are just the end result of natural selection? And, by the way, what caused the Big Bang?
The Abrahamic religions certainly have their problems, but at least Judaism and Islam are content with one god. Christianity demands that while on the one hand we suspend our disbelief in virgin births, resurrections from the dead and the Trinity, we also believe in the idea of an eternal non-consuming hellfire for unrepentant sinners, an idea so unimaginably appalling that it makes the Holocaust sound like a holiday camp.
Now, the latest book on the subject of Hell* says that after all, it cannot exist in a universe created by a loving god – we will all be saved. This loving god must exist, because the alternative – a chance event generating life out of basic elements with no reason to the universe – is unimaginable. I have not read the book – nor do I intend doing so – but I do wonder how the author manages to reconcile this all-loving god with the misery existing among mankind on earth, whether from human agency or the legion other natural causes – of which disease, hunger and mental or physical disability are just a few.
I find myself wondering whether belief in the existence of a ‘creator’ is not just the result of overweening human pride; the thought that we are so wonderful that there must be a purpose to it all. Some people, I fear, cannot face up to the fact that there might, after all, be no purpose at all; we just evolved from a random event.
Dogs at least do not have that problem. Perhaps it is a case of ignorance is bliss, but I think we can learn much from dogs; certainly the ability to enjoy the moment, and live life for the bliss of just being alive …
*That All Shall Be Saved by David Bentley Hart
The trial scene in A Man for All Seasons is a brilliant climax to the film. Thomas More has assiduously refrained from making any comment on the invalidity of Henry VIII’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon and marriage to Anne Boleyn. Sir Richard Rich, an arriviste to whom More declined earlier to offer employment, is sent by Thomas Cromwell to talk to him in the Tower, and shamelessly perjures himself by telling Parliament that More did, during that conversation, effectively deny the validity of the divorce.
Knowing that he is doomed, More finally does make a public declaration of his beliefs. As Rich moves to leave, More asks him about a chain of office around his neck, and is told that he is Solicitor General for Wales.
More says: “For Wales? Why Richard, it profit a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world . . . but for Wales?!”
Or oysters, cockles, whelks or clams. Their shells are made of calcium carbonate – CaCO3 – of which a substantial component is carbon.
The other night I cooked moules marinières, excellently done, though I say so myself … But it was when I was disposing of the shells that I started to ponder what they were made of. I weighed one of those mussel shells, it was four grams. There were probably between 50 and 70 of them, say 50, so the total weight was at least 200 grams. Calcium carbonate contains around 12% carbon by weight, so the residue of my dinner was 24 grams of pure carbon.
That carbon was extracted from seawater when the mussel was growing, and the carbon almost certainly come from carbon dioxide that had dissolved in the seawater. My dinner locked up at least 24 grams of carbon, effectively for ever. So the solution for global carbon capture? Grow mussels, tons and tons of 'em! Eat the contents and stick the shells into land-fill where they will remain for hundreds of millions of years. Carbon dioxide problem solved at a stroke – or rather, a gulp … I always was a bit of a messy eater.
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs