There was rather restrained “more in sorrow than in anger” piece about Britain’s woes from German journalist Peter Tiede in The Times yesterday. Tiede concentrates on the present but for me underlying the differences between our two nations is how Germany has atoned for her hideous 20th Century past whereas we ignore our deadly mistakes and wave flags in a sentimental frenzy about ours. The Germans have moved on. We haven’t.
Because our present and recent past is so singularly awful we cling on to the myths of a once noble land of hope and glory. What a pompous, boastful nation we are. In my baby boomer lifetime British soldiers and native civilians perished in large numbers in a last ditch defence of imperialism, in Kenya, Malaya, Cyprus and other places over which collectively the sun never set.
We allowed the deadly partition of India. We walked away from Hong Kong not leaving a vestige of protection from the murderous Beijing regime. We so failed diplomatically to protect a few barren rocks in the South Atlantic that we had to fight a last, and deadly, imperial war to get them back.
When economic need dictated that we needed labour to run the buses we windrushed them in. Then we insulted and discriminated against these immigrants for years, for decades, and still do. And when their descendants told us that black lives matter and took the knee all too many of us booed from the sidelines,
We were told to find a post imperial role and eventually dragged ourselves reluctant and wingeing into Europe only a few decades later to walk away with our pram going around in circles and our toys all over the ground.
Our “troubles” are manifest and all of our own making. We will get no sympathy from Germany, nor deserve any. Brexit was the final straw. Membership of the European Union helped hold Germany and Britain together – that common purpose is now gone.
One thought on “Our “troubles” are manifest and all of our own making. We will get no sympathy from Germany, nor deserve any”
Entirely agree. Thank you.
I grew up in Britain in the aftermath of that terrible violent conflict, World War 11. Both my parents survived the war but were deeply traumatised by the experience of having lived through the blitz in London. Their own parents suffering during WW1 had also left a deep imprint on their own childhood..
We moved to the countryside away from the destruction. It was a form of renewal for them and new experience for me. Life was difficult there were shortages of basic foodstuffs and medicines. Everything was still rationed. I can still recall my mother’s ration books and going to the local WVS to collect our concentrated orange juice, malt, and cod liver oil.
The aftermath of war dominated our childhood. Many servicemen, my own family included returned to live in our communities bearing the trauma and scars of war. Most never spoke of it, my parents wouldn’t discuss it. The memories were too painful to relive. They wanted to move forward to something better, something more positive.
Gradually through education, I learned how the process unfolded in the twentieth century. I understood war as a consequence of empire, power, and hatred of others different from themselves. World War 11 was in fact the second act of a ghastly process. The disillusion of European empires and the power struggles of fanatics, demi-gods, and dictators.
The way forward for mankind is through mutually shared cooperation, not nationalist supremacy. Not a belief in one culture, religion, or political ideals being in any way superior to another. Division and isolation foster nothing but ignorance, hatred, and violence.
The EU offered a way forward towards creating a more tolerant prosperous society for all member nations. Heal the wounds of conflict more successfully.
Sharing sovereignty in a collective does not mean giving it up. Not ceding power to other nations. It is to contribute all that’s positive about Britain to a wider world. In return, Britain has and would continue to benefit enormously.
As it is Britain because of a misguided vote fuelled by prejudice and dishonesty has abandoned all hope of improving their future prosperity. Lost the opportunity of strengthening political and social ties with Europe that had been successfully repaired since the end of the conflict.
Now the view of Britain looks from a distance like a hollowed-out shell of a state. Floundering in its act of self-harm. Suffering the consequences of separation from hope.