The Chips are Down
The standoff between the Polish and Belarusan borders, as demonstrated by a heart-wrenching line of asylum seekers, shows that the Chips are finally Down. The tragedy of people trying to do their best for their families is enough to make us stop and think about what we are trying to achieve and how, within the few weeks before Christmas, we are failing to achieve it. “There is no room in the EU.” There have been raids on the EU’s and other’s borders before and there will be again. Possibly ones resulting in even greater carnage than that reached in the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. The timing of the Belarus / Polish clash is right to remind those in warmer places that, however beautiful winter is, cold is a killer of many people, and a proliferator of deadly infections.
The answer – as the two governments involved are demonstrating – is so difficult that they do not know what to do. Experienced politicians might temporarily put aside the interests of their voters in favour of calling for a wider world forum like the UN to help sort the problem, mightn’t they? The UN is a brittle instrument but it has done wonderful work in situations as difficult as this. I suggest the UN forms a ‘Sub-Security Council’ charged with delivering ‘Decisions for the future of Humankind’s planet’. They would initially be subordinate to the Security Council. When their decisions were seen worldwide to be what people want they might well become superior to it. Also possibly providing that beacon of light humankind needs to see if we are to survive.
If you have a local park for people to enjoy, you police it sensibly in the interests of all, not just those living on the West side or the East side. Well, we have a local park. It is called the planet and we all are temporarily responsible for all of it, not just a little bit we may have bought. Property and Country rights will stay put but as the idiocy of a few people owning or commanding huge chunks of your and my planet become apparent, those rules will be modified not by forbidding “ownership” but by insisting on good property management. Many already do this, more could. I am a true blue Conservative who wants to see the rapid growth of fairness and the widespread ownership of property under sensible rules. Those are both possible in a world where we want equality of opportunity. It’s now the only sensible way to live.
Back to Belarus and Poland. The barbed wire between them, the border preservation, the clear signs that some border guards are unwilling to shoot people to maintain control is a mixture in the making, where no one element is allowed to dominate. Countries that live significantly better than others will always be asked to house the rich and the nervous. Apart from their pallid history of handling money and being tax havens – mostly, it has to be said, for perfectly sensible and reasonable causes – they realise as they grow, the importance of fairness and world order. There isn’t much of that for the moment, I agree. Perhaps Belarus and Poland can become a start to such. I would like to tell them the story of ‘The Tree on the other side of the Field’.
When I was thirteen years old, it was nearing the end of WWII in Europe, and not long after that the end of the Japanese war, too. I had spent most of my wartime school holidays on a farm in Cornwall, a beautiful but hilly part of the UK. My father was in the Admiralty working with Churchill. It was thought wiser for my sister and myself to be kept away from London because of the bombing. On the farm where I stayed was a wonderful Polish soldier, Dick Sompolenski, working out his wartime as a refugee – and working it out damned hard too.
One day he said to me “You plough this field, John”. I set about doing so. He stopped me after twenty yards. “It’s not quite like that,” he said, adding, “You have two wonderful shire horses, they do the work. You have a marvellous bit of machinery, the plough, that turns the soil. All you have to do is find a Tree on the other side of the Field. Keep your eye on it and you will plough a straight furrow. All your other furrows will follow it and you will have a beautifully ploughed field.”
That night I lay awake pondering Dick’s words. It seemed to me that the Tree on the other side of the Field was for much more than ploughing – for example, for a life and a career. From ages thirteen to eighty nine I have never got out of bed without knowing where my Tree is.
Why don’t Belarus and Poland agree on a joint Tree, some month ahead in time but the same Tree for both of them – and sell it to their voters? It could be the start of the Sub-Security Council I mentioned above. It sounds childishly simple but I suspect that world solutions are actually simpler than the infrastructure of vested interests would have one believe. So let all humankind set in sight a Tree on the other side of the Field. It is what is needed.
Hello, ‘Tree’, ‘December’, ‘Christmas’. Well, it doesn’t suit everyone but it wouldn’t be a bad target, would it?
And we know precisely how far away the other side of the field is, don’t we?
About thirty years.
Where do you place humankind’s Tree on the other side of the Field?
Do let us know. Drop a line to Zoey Lim, firstname.lastname@example.org, my EA, and she will pin my nose to an early answer.