At 5.45 this morning my four year old son threw up all over the landing. I had to give him credit for summarising the mood in our household. It’s been another one of those days – a stomach churning, gut wrenching repeat of that Brexit feeling. Less of a shock this time, but even more frightening. The stakes have raised astronomically higher in what is now beginning to look like a fracturing of our global political landscape. We stand on a massive precipice. Collectively peering over the edge in trepidation. We are justified in fearing a blind leap towards populism – history tells us that this will not end well. Just yesterday a much respected octogenarian friend and historian shared his worries with me that we have come full circle since the defeat of fascism. We should heed his fears – he has dedicated much of his career to its study.
So we all have a choice. We have many choices, almost infinite in the range and scope of their potential outcomes. We could curl up under a blanket and hide (tempting, this is my chosen approach for today at least whilst we ride out the wave of vomit engulfing our household). We could get angry. But at whom and where will that take us? We could point the finger of blame, and there are enough directions to point it in. But what will that achieve?
We could work ourselves into a state of nervous terror envisaging the multiple horrible ways that things could play out from here (I’d already been through many of them in my mind’s eye by about 6.30am this morning) but I think we can all agree that isn’t the best use of our creative energies.
Or we can fix things. We can choose action, and hope, and optimism. We can look at our own corner of the world, our street, our town, our community. What does it need? What do the people here need? How can we work together to solve our collective problems? Who are the vulnerable people in our street, our town, our community that need help? What do we have in common?
When divisive voices suggest we focus on our differences we have a choice. We can put up barriers within our communities or we can choose to look deeper and see that the challenges that unite us are far more relevant.
All of these choices come within a unit of scale. The most fundamental ones are at the scale of you and I. A human scale, measured in relationships and one-to-one interaction. The currency of these interactions is kindness, tolerance and respect. We can choose to reject the transactional basis that our economic system would have us use as the basis for human interaction and the way we value each other. I choose to value you as a person. Not on the basis of what you contribute to the economy, but on the basis of who you are and what you need.
Some of the choices come at a larger scale. Some are at a community level, others bigger still. In a time of such political instability, with so much at stake, we must scrutinise the very basis on which we deal with decision making and ask ourselves – what is the most appropriate scale for us to imagine and build something better?
The most appropriate scale for us to build a better future for Wales is at the scale of our country. Within that there will be a very many different, locally appropriate solutions. Everything about the current system in the UK and within western neo-liberal society is either broken or looking dangerously likely to come apart. Economically, environmentally, democratically, philosophically and ethically, we have reached a crisis and we need to ask some big questions. We need to make some big choices, both individually and collectively. But we must do it at a scale that fits.
There is a huge moral imperative right now for every single one of us to be part of imagining and creating a better future. There will be a myriad different suggestions, and the debate will rage. But one thing will be noticeable – the question of whether Wales would be better placed to handle its human scale decisions, will be oddly absent from the discussion. How do we value people, how can we ensure the vulnerable are protected, that those who cannot contribute economically due to illness or disability are still valued as human beings – would Wales be better making these decisions at the scale of an independent country? These questions will go unasked in the mainstream.
So we need to ask them ourselves. We don’t have a functioning media in Wales to ask whether or not we might be better placed to withstand fascism and the rise of right wing politics if we were empowered to make our own decisions as a Welsh Nation. The British media will not invite us to reflect on reasons for the growth of an English Nationalist party in Wales (which is what UKip is). We must ask these questions ourselves. We must create the space to ask ‘if not this, then what?’ The potential answers to that question are so exciting, so laden with potential. That is how we will tempt people back from the precipice, towards a future filled with hope, not with hate.
People in Wales must identify the problems that affect Wales. The problems that affect our communities, our neighbours, our families. We will most likely identify different root causes to these problems than those identified by the British establishment (spoiler alert – its probably not immigration). And then we must set about designing solutions. At a community scale, at a Wales scale. We must make a case for our own identity and take a firm grasp of the responsibilities that come with being a Nation. A fair, just Nation that values all individuals equally and does not blame ‘others’ for our collective problems. If we are to be responsible, and we must, then we must take responsibility.
We all have choices. I am campaigning for an independent Wales because I think this will empower us and give us the best shot at shaping a better future. What do you think? Are you #indycurious yet?