I write this letter to myself.
You’re welcome to read it, of course; though whether it will make any sense, I don’t know.
It’s just that I’ve noticed I’m struggling to look at the news at present, which is sad; and this is largely due to the Brexit narrative.
No asylum built has ever contained such insanity; and I’m struggling to find a personal path through it all.
I see a thousand joyful ways for the UK to relate to Europe; just as there are a thousand such ways to relate to my wife.
And the original Brexit vote was an exercise in stupidity for this reason – because it reduced a thousand ways to two.
The EU referendum made relationship a binary affair, when nothing of worth on earth is binary…apart from the number system.
Binary is simple; but in relationship to reality, it’s a jackass, crude and clumsy. It brutalises discourse.
It is either/or, this or that, in or out, sheep or goats. It’s keen on clear divides, high walls, with a penchant for hysteria and jack boots.
It’s essential crime against humanity is to encourage separation… when, as Rumi reminds us, ‘pilgrimage to the place of the wise is to escape the flame of separation.’
In Stupidland, a thousand ways to relate becomes two, with subtlety and nuance sacrificed in the lead-gloved fight.
And so I join the poet Matthew Arnold, ‘here as on a darkling plain, Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night.’
I live in a swirling cloud of unknowing, and with the fear that cloud brings – fear for myself and others.
And in the middle of battle, amid the confused alarms, no one knows the outcome or what the day will bring…no one; just as in the concentration camps, no one knew if they would live beyond tomorrow.
Yes, the camps spring to mind – forgive me, but they hold so much truth – because, as Victor Frankl reminds me, I don’t need to become desensitised to survive; in fact, almost the opposite.
And here I pause and I breathe.
In ‘Man’s Search for Meaning,’ Frankl observes that the more sensitive camp inmates may have suffered more physical pain, their constitutions sometimes weaker, ‘but the damage to their inner lives was less.
They were able to retreat from their terrible surroundings to a life of inner riches and spiritual freedom. Only in this way can one explain the apparent paradox that some prisoners of a less hardy make-up, often seemed to survive camp life better than those of a more robust nature.’
So, maybe I am allowed not to be stupid as the Brexit farce reaches its denouement; I can light a candle for nuance, even if the brawl obscures it.
And I am allowed to look after myself and my inner riches, amid the struggle and flight.
I can entertain my views and act on them if I wish.
And I can ponder daily, in every aspect of my life, the meaning of Rumi’s pilgrimage to the place of the wise, which is ‘to escape the flame of separation.’
In myself, I can be the country I wish to be…and let the news unfold.