Leaving Church this morning I heard the organist play his concluding piece; Pomp and Circumstance March No 4 by Sir Edward Elgar. It was interesting to see how many lingered to hear it.
I have been pondering the Referendum, and as this is Sunday I shall attempt to express my feelings in an appropriate way.
I attended a wedding last Friday. The couple were criminally young, just 24 years old. It was a lovely occasion and to see two people in the mid-morning of their lives, the rosy bloom of youth still evident upon their faces pledge to live in mutual devotion through all of the mysterious possibilities of the future was quite heart-warming and uplifting. It caused me to consider my own situation, and indeed my own marriage. I found myself asking the question, “What is the basis upon which my marriage is built? What is the ground upon which we both stand? What is the bond that brought and keeps us together, despite what may happen to us along the way?” My answer is simple and in no way sentimental; it is because we love each other. I do not mean the kind of love that is portrayed so freely these days, a marshmallow, sickly, fluffy, intoxicating, ephemeral kind of love. I mean the more substantial, robust, dutiful, all-encompassing kind of love that (hopefully) is a sufficiently powerful thing to bring us through all of the opportunities and challenges of the future. Solid. Dependable. Sacrificial. That is what binds us. At least I hope so.
Then my thoughts meander along the byways of the present situation in our national life. I find myself asking myself what it is that binds us to our European ‘partners’. Is it love for their culture and their habits? Possibly a fondness, but probably not a love for those things, at least not greater than the love for one’s own nation and its traditions. Is it admiration for Europe’s great institutions? Is it awe at the scale by which the project has developed over these last all too swift decades? Is it the sense of common purpose? Is it that I feel safer within the EU? I confess, that I cannot answer ‘Yes’ to any of these hypotheticals. More importantly, I cannot with even an ounce of seriousness say that I feel at home in Europe because I love it. That would be a lie.
We are presented with an opportunity to say “Enough is enough!” Further, “Halt, this far is too far!” I think that unless we can truly say that we are here because we love it, then a vote to remain is a vote that is made for all the wrong reasons. I did not marry my darling wife because she would make me more prosperous. I do not stay with her because I am afraid of what life might be like if I were ever to leave the family home. I do not skedaddle home every night because I live under threat that my life will be blighted by unacceptable sanction should I fail to do so. I do not stay married to her because she tells me I am too weak to stand on my own two feet. I am married to her, and I will be with her until the echo of my dying breath slips away on the evening breeze……..because I love her.
I could not say that if my affections were with another, outside of the home, or across the sea in a foreign continent. To set my affections apart from the one to whom I am betrothed is an adultery which inevitably says something about my lack of fidelity and therefore also about the weakness of my character. It makes me undeserving of her devotion and her affection.
There is only one sound basis for continuing this matrimonial union; this ménage a vingt-huit. However, I doubt very much that there is sufficient love in the air to make it continue for very much longer. We have been living a lie and it is folly to fall back on the old cushion of “Let’s give it another go.” It is time to part, either on good terms as grown-ups, or if needs be, on bad terms. We are big enough to cope with either. That is my hope and my prayer.