Our relationship with Europe

I have listened to the debates so far regarding staying in or leaving Europe, with great interest. I hear people compelling us to leave Europe for our greater good, and compelling us to stay in Europe for our greater good. In all these arguments to date, I have not heard anything with provides a solid rationale for staying or leaving. I wonder if this remains unknown and that the ultimate outcome of the decision is simply too large for any one person to comprehend.

In considering the options, I’m minded to consider our relationship with Europe as that, a relationship. This provides me with some understanding of what might be going on here. It feels as though the parent labelled ’Europe’ is being rebelled against. As a ‘child’ of this parent, we are not happy with the boundaries which have been put in place. We are angry at the decisions being made and a strong drive telling us that we would be better standing on our own feet. Sounds a little bit like a teenager who is fighting to form an individual identity, hating the parents for the ground rules. Those ground rules which supported us to grow and develop, when this country was born out of the conflicts of two world wars.

The arguments seem to me to be focussed on convincing the British people (aka us) to make this decision, but this motivation is not without manipulation and threats of doom should be choose the wrong decision. If feels to be as difficult a decision to make as that faced by social workers who are instrumental in taking a child into care, ultimately and hopefully for their greater good. Whilst I can vote on what feels right to me, ultimately, I do not know what is the best for the British people, as much as a social worker can comprehend the overall outcome of their decision to remove (or not) a child. What is the impact 10 years, 20 years, 30 years into the future…?

To me, |t is also unfortunate that we have never truly been part of the family. Can we truly say what it is to be part of the family we may reject in a few months time. We have remained one foot in and one foot out, dithering between full integration and departure. We’ve wanted the benefits of the European project, whilst criticising it at every developmental step. Perhaps memories of the great British Empire linger on, nearly 60 years after we returned to being just a small island state with an influential history. Are we still mourning the loss of our power on the global stage?

In reality, I don’t know what the outcome will be. On balance though, what I do know from working with relationships is that the most effective outcome is remaining in and working with the relationship, rather than abandoning it without at least trying to understand what might (or indeed not) be broken. Whilst it might be more painful to stay and we are not likely to get everything we desire, compromise and support of the ‘family’ is more beneficial in the long run, than going it alone. In making this decision, I will ponder which family we will be adopted by should I vote to leave versus the family we are currently part of. I will consider what the difficulties are that I face in this family, and what is the relational process behind abandoning it, packing our bags and running away.

Although, I’m not sure we’ve worked out yet where we are going, and what we do if we don’t like where we end up…