Before Christmas, as astronomical winter clocked in, we sensed that this would be no ordinary winter.
Then we eagerly anticipated the Brexit vote, and yet at the end of the season this remains unresolved.
And so this has been a season of waiting, the ‘deep breath before the plunge’.
The waiting is designed to suck energy and certainty out of the debate, to make the unacceptable practical and inevitable.
In one way Brexit is a glorious distraction, a parliamentary pantomime with heroes and villains, audience participation, and a few sing-along slogans.
In the end the European Union is the head of Europe. Regional economic cooperation makes sense in a globalised world, but countries will generally agree terms and trade.
It is not Brexit, but that we are a country prepared to shape-shift into something ‘other’ to accommodate Brexit. This ‘other’ has sprung from the spiralling inequality of recent years, and will prise the cracks further apart. It does not appear kinder or stronger but meaner and smaller.
The real prize for those who would divide to rule is not just the manipulation of our minds, but the ripping out of the heart of Europe. And that heart is the Council of Europe and its Convention on Human Rights. This treaty stands for freedom under the law and equality before the law, and it seeks to mirror and manage the massive challenges and changes in post-war Europe.
There is enthusiasm to sideline or consign the Convention to history. Certainly it is now an unwieldy affair with a court swamped with cases. But it is a marvellous youthful institution, a catalyst for change and a challenge to the mean minded. Flawed, of course, as with any other instrument of justice and government, but it stands for a golden time which must be maintained.
And so after the waiting, there will be a plunge.
We have spent this strange winter preparing. And we see these events through a prism of the story of the beginnings of the Convention, and how it was born from an analysis of the crimes of the Nazis, and the confrontation of the leaders who perpetrated them.
Over this time we have sharpened the aims of our project, THE HUMAN’S IN THE TELLING. We are now in a period of production and organisation. We are creating a filmed recording of DREAMS OF PEACE & FREEDOM, and a supporting ebook. We will have our materials ready by July. At the same time we are organising a year’s outreach to signatory states of the Convention, and three months commemoration prior to the anniversaries of Nuremberg and the Convention’s signing in November 2020.
We will be ready for the plunge, but if it can be averted, we will be ready to celebrate.
Waiting cannot smother passion.
As CS Lewis wrote about the deeper magic that hovers out of the sight of those who engender frustration, depair and hostility:
‘If she could have looked a little further back into the stillness and darkness before time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation’.
In due course spring will come, and a renaissance, like that longed for by President Macron, will blossom. How long we have to wait is up to us.