Probably not for any of the reasons you will hear on TV
Do we continue to participate in the EU or do we revert back to an island nation? Like most people I’m completely fed up with the political point scoring going on in the UK right now. We’re in the middle of the build up to one of the most important decisions we could possibly make. It’s not just politicians point scoring, these days every single person has their own online presence, their very own platform for propagating their own views via Twitter, FaceBook, etc. I’m no exception of course, here I am posting my own opinion. But, I’m going to take a slightly different approach. Its my opinion, I don’t expect anyone else to share it and I’m not trying to convert anyone, I’m writing this because unlike most people I don’t ask what the EU has done for us, instead I ask what can we do for the EU. All I ask of anyone reading this is to ponder that question themselves. Is it worth all the trouble and hassle to contribute and take part or is it better to take the easy route and bow out?
A unique age in human history
I am part of a generation that ushered in the modern always connected era that the newest generation take for granted today. I was lucky enough to work on World Wide Web technologies at Marconi when it was in its infancy, you couldn’t even put pictures on web pages back then, just plain text. Before that as a kid I had to write out my programs and post them to the university to be converted to punch cards and run, it was always a joy getting a print out with “ERROR ON LINE 16”! Things have moved so fast since then its hard to keep up.
Journalism used to be a relatively slow affair, it relied on knowing an event is actually happening. If it’s happening in a country closed off to the media or simply remote then it couldn’t make the news. Everything is instantly global now, journalism is done by ordinary people via their mobile phones and they can change the fate of entire countries with their thumbs. Ordinary people find ways to communicate even in the remotest and most closed off countries and very little is hidden any more. This change will eventually reach every corner of the globe.
In 2001 the people of the Philippines organised protests against President Estrada via mobile phone text messages, bringing about his eventual impeachment. The Saffron Revolution in the Philippines in 2008 was communicated to the outside world online by students and monks bringing international pressure. These are just two examples of how much power people have in this ever more connected world. Imagine the possibilities for the future.
I believe in something bigger than myself
Yes there is something bigger then me, this country or even the EU. We are all part of a global community which faces truly global problems, the most recent financial crisis being a good example. The biggest of all is global warming of course, and its only by collaborating and working together all across the world that we can tackle it. The global challenges we will face will require a commitment from everybody and the only way to get that is to work together as a Global Union.
By having a global ethic along with our global connected society its possible that our young generation could surpass with ease any previous accomplishments and its our generations responsibility to start building that community. There will always be resistance but we must not let that deter us from this goal, we must stand strong and move forwards. We don’t build anything by walking away when times are hard, we must work even harder to come together.
And its the globalisation of communications through technology that’s providing the opportunity to do something truly amazing. This rapidly evolving and powerful connected tech in the hands of billions of people, connecting them together, allows language and culture barriers to evaporate. Traditional methods for controlling a population through the media are being eroded away and hopefully one day will be gone altogether because the truth will always find a voice, and that voice will be heard globally.
As for the EU itself
The EU is the first attempt to bring together different countries and cultures, to put in place institution, governance and ethics, to design a combined responsibility. If it’s not working we need to try to fix it because this is the template, the first working model of what we need to do globally. The only way to influence and guide policy, law, finance, etc, is to take part so take part we must. After all Britain is one of the most powerful countries in the world. We need to be seen leading the way.
I hear people ask if Britain is still great, have we lost everything that made us stand out? Well the answer is we’re still Great because we lead the way, because we strive for a better world, because we act as an example and because were taking part. But if we take the easy road, turn our back, if we allow isolationists and fear mongers to turn us aside from playing a role in building this new global community. Then my friends, we will no longer be great, we will survive yes but we will be letting down the young generation that rely on us and Britain was never great because it was an Island, it was great because it led the way.
You see, once Europe is united and we can see its working, that tough times came and went and we strived together to overcome. Then we need to build another community on top of those foundations, a Global Union, with global responsibility, global institutions and governance. That’s the only way we solve the global problems were already facing. And I want to see Great Britain leading the way.
So yes, I’m in! Lets make this work and lets build a bright future for our kids. A connected, responsible future with deep foundations from our EU experience.
Ian Wilson 2016
My personal epiphany
These thoughts on our collective responsibility didn’t come from nowhere, the seeds were sown back in 2009 for me. I had already been an avid fan of TED for some time and was looking forward to the upcoming conference and its mystery keynote speaker. Imagine my surprise when I found out it was the UK’s then Prime Minister Gordon Brown! Seriously! Ah well I thought, TED’s gone down in my estimation. But I was wrong, it was one of the most inspirational TED talks I can remember. I even forced my team back at the office to watch it in a team meeting (sorry guys). I have dug out the video and embedded it below along with the Q&A video.
There have been many talks on global responsibility since but this was my epiphany.