Before Easter I reached Brussels, where this brief video was taken in front of the European Parliament
I had to interrupt my journey several time for patients, the university and my family, but I will manage:
On the evening of Thursday, 25th of April I will be reaching Calais. I plan to reach Maidstone by 27th April and London by 31st April in the evening. On the 1st May I will be in London for some press conferences and to meet whoever wishes to talk to me about my journey towards understanding the future of our lives in Europe.
The longer I walk, and the more people I talk with, the more I realize that the EU still has to develop a lot more.
So much has been written about Brexit. I have here summarized so things that were not clear to many people I spoke to so far. They are, however, not the most important. The most important could be that we really meet each other, not only digitally, and create growing communities of people who can really trust each other.
Brexit seems extremely costly, to the UK and the EU
According the Bertelsmann Foundation’s recent calculations, a Hard Brexit will cost the UK 54 billion Euro per year and the EU 40 Billion per year (1). Britain will be worst off and it will pull other European countries down with it, whereas the USA and China will be making a profit from Brexit.
As far as I understand the facts, Britain and the EU benefit short-term and long-term from being together. Of course, there are reasons for Brexit but there seem to be so many more for a BreEUnion. Even a soft Brexit would still cost the UK about 20 billion per year (2) and is not what most young people want. Young people are becoming global citizens and understand that a strong Europe is good for a strong world. The EU is a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Now it needs to become a role model in ecology, fair economy and dignifying education. Europe has the potential to become a place on Earth where every single person, and every child, regardless of any disabilities, can find their own dignity. We need everyone’s fantasy, courage and willpower to achieve this goal.
What if something new and really good developed out of the Brexit-Stress?
The thinking that brought about Brexit is not the kind of thinking that is going to solve the problem. We need to learn to think of each part in relation to the whole: each person and each nation needs to ask what he or she can contribute to the whole.
The referendum was an understandable sign of protest, but does not have to lead to Brexit:
This referendum should be seen as an opinion poll, it should not binding because the 2016 referendum that led to the vote of 51.9% to leave the EU was based on a campaign that has since been found to involve illegal financing, illegal use of data for micro-targeted manipulation and proven untruths (3), (4). By following this referendum Britain would be departing from its long-held laws and values (5), setting a terrible example and proving that politicians can get their way by lying.
Because the UK is part of the EU, it is in the interest of the UK, as well as in the interest of all other 27 member states, to not accept the results of this illegally led referendum.
The “Cancel Brexit” petition surpassed 5.7 million signatures – making it the largest petition in UKs history (6). Why Mrs. May (7) and her administration (8) choose Brexit remains unclear to me.
Immigration and refugees:
Brexit voters feared that immigration was destroying Germany and would soon destroy them. Well it did not: Germany welcomed 1.3 million refugees in 2016, and in 2019 has a record low unemployment of 3.2% and the lowest burglary and violence rates since 1992 (9), all lower than the UK. Contrary to what is often said by Brexiters, the UK was very able to guard its boarders and only let 84,000 refugees in. Unemployment rates in the UK would get worse with Brexit, not better.
Where someone is heading is more important than where they come from.
Britain and the EU:
The EU is also far from perfect, but it does offer a good platform for helping build and scale up one of the fairest societies in the world. Without the EU, the UK would, politically and economically, be a little island in the Atlantic Ocean, between Europe, America, China and Russia.
Forces of isolation and egotism:
We all have forces of destruction, isolation and egotism in us. Without them we would have no boundaries, no skin, no blood and no bones. Humans have isolated themselves from their surroundings more than any being on earth. This is a prerequisite for individuality, and the reason for the long and creative period of development that we allow ourselves, as children and as mankind.
As we mature, we learn to leave the aggressive forces of the body where they belong, like in the stomach for digestion and in the bones for fighting gravity, and we learn to behave like the heart. The heart never takes more than it needs. It continually perceives and serves the whole and is thereby served by the whole. We can all becomes hearts of Europe. So that Europe can be one of the many hearts in the world.
We need a society base on values and dignity, not on race, language or origin
We have 7,7 billion people on the planet, and still increasing in numbers (10). According to recent calculations we could happily live with 11 billion people on earth. All would have enough to eat and our planet would survive ecologically – but we rich countries would have to change our habits. (11) As Ghandhi said: “The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”
Therefore, the real problem we have is that we have not yet learnt to think, feel and act globally and holistically. This an educational problem. We all need to learn to live together. We need to learn how to create a society in which every person, independent of age, gender, ability, origin, property, status and inclinations can find their dignity. (12) Dignity is the right of a person to be valued and respected for his or her own sake.
We need a society that provides dignity and appreciation of the global contribution of each individual person, country and continent:
We all have a deep need for identity. The question is: what and who do you want to identify yourself with? Identity used to be based on family and birthplace, then it grew into identification with clans, towns, and even nations. Property, power and fame are strong providers of egotistic identity and outer dignity. Now is the time to grow beyond national and egotistic identities. They are a mere fiction. It is time to grow beyond blood ties and everything that passively gives us status. It is time to ask “what can I, my culture, my country contribute to the development of an ecologically and socially healthy world?” The more we concentrates on contributing to the whole, the more our own needs will be fulfilled.
Most young people want to make a meaningful contribution to the whole and thereby develop their own identity and find their own dignity. A strong European Union that respects and encourages the unique contribution that each of its members can make to a healthy, diverse whole is what we need. We are still a long way from that ideal, but could be closer than we have ever been.
So, dear Brits, stay tuned into the European spirit of individualism and dignity and bring in your unique Britishness to spice it up!
(11) A 2015 study in the Journal of Industrial Ecology showed that household consumers are responsible for more than 60% of the globe’s greenhouse gas emissions, and up to 80% of the world’s land, material and water use. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/jiec.12371?referrer_access_token=3GvZ8oF2X2c2lbQvVQ8gH4ta6bR2k8jH0KrdpFOxC666OPmjaBpqM55OqTFgJ01tLLxARRbn7ub0OiAFAiKbuzDJovsL5Cht2mCK-2g2C_nxFom3yBX4JRDEPvpbQNg1fJd634Wo2fG9zgEjYauaQw%3D%3D
 A school system that compares children with each other unasked according to a particular kind of intelligence testing is not dignifying. We need school systems with the primary aim of helping each child find their dignity. It is unethical to compare children and make one child feel a failure compared to another.
(12)We have a United Nations constitution that states all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, but we do not have the educational system to realize this. I was in many schools but one of my schools in France was a school which enabled me, the more academically inclined, to admire my fellow classmates for their many other skills. To find your freedom and dignity and that of others you need schools full of arts, crafts, play and nature. All subjects should be learned artistically, esthetically, playfully. This is absolutely possible. You need to learn to make beautiful and useful things with your hands, you need to move and dance and play theater, you need to learn to cook, garden and care for mother earth. For each step we take in into the age of digitalization and artificial intelligence, we need to take three steps in the search for truth, connection and human dignity. Or we will fall prey to manipulations and humiliations far greater than seen in connection with Brexit.