Subscribe to Thank God It’s Friday

TGIF columns are in order by date from the most recent.

Scroll down to search or read more

BC-Exit with Brexit

THE WHOLE world fervently followed yesterday’s referendum that decided whether Britain left or remained in the European Union, because Brexit has truly global ramifications; but, of all seven billion of us, it will potentially hit me hardest since I’ve decided that, if Britain left Europe yesterday, I’m leaving the English-speaking Caribbean today. (Don’t get your hopes up, politicians and pastors, BC-Exit won’t be by suicide, but by cutting every firetrucking body else off.)

Now, despite our species’ daily-demonstrated idiocy, I continue to hope that, in time, the only guides we will need will be the old Communist mantra – from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs – and a rule so sensible, we call it “golden”: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I remain hopeful that we will outgrow our instincts, even though I know we can only do so through mutual commitments to work through our individual bullshits and clear unfettered common ground for our mutual development; we will not progress if we do not all progress – a lesson so far unlearned by the rich, who continue to believe in insulation ahead of integration, in higher walls, not wages.

The long and winding Brexit campaign uncovered every real or imaginary advantage and disadvantage of leaving or staying in every possible field; but the “arguments” probably only confirmed the pre-existing biases of pro- or anti-Brexiters, since they are directly contradictory: Brexit will create jobs but destroy them, restore the NHS to its former glory and destroy it utterly, save Britain as well as sell it out. So, no, people won’t have been “persuaded” by the shiploads of opinion under which they’ve been buried.

It would have been something much more personal.

Now I admit I often see things in an ultra-simplified way – particularly when everybody else seems to think they’re ultra-complicated –– but, to me, the whole debate really comes down to one thing: do you want to connect with others or go it alone?

There are, clearly, British individuals who stand to make more money by leaving or staying in Europe and their decisions will have turned on money (like most of their significant personal decisions, including where they go to school and who they marry) but most people will see only marginal changes in their lives if Britain stays in or leaves Europe.

So yesterday’s vote, for me, was a vote on our own development, as a species, and a measurement of our own hope in ourselves. It delights me that Germany, the nation that twice led the world into war in the last century, is leading the global movement towards widespread, cooperative international peace. The same German state that murdered six million Jews barely 71 years ago – the average age of the Rolling Stones today – voluntarily made space, last year, for a million refugees.

If that isn’t the best part of us, we’ve got nothing good going for us at all.

And if we can’t start by all agreeing that we’re in this thing together, we’ve lost before we start.

And, if Britain voted yesterday to retard our combined advancement by retreating from her European sibling nations, you can bet your bottom firetrucking dollar I’ll be getting out of the English-speaking Caribbean.

The Caribbean Court of Justice decision in the Tomlinson Case challenging the legal ban on homosexuals entering Trinidad & Tobago turned my stomach. I know just enough about law to withhold my final view until I’ve read the judgement closely, but, by taking the course the news reports suggest it did, the court seems to have squandered a golden opportunity to apply the golden rule; and, en passant, it let down the cause of human rights dreadfully.

My erstwhile colleague, Mark Wilson (No Rainbows for Jamaica, last Friday’s Express, Which Way Will the CCJ Jump? Guardian, March 2015), has written well and extensively on the issue, underlining that the 11 English-speaking Caribbean “nations” – Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana, Barbados, Grenada, St Vincent,St Lucia, Dominica, Antigua & Barbuda, St Kitts/Nevis, Belize and Jamaica – which retain what the Jamaicans proudly call “buggery laws” are the only countries in the Western hemisphere that do. Last week, Mark also pointed out, Jamaica and Barbados formally objected to gays being included in a human rights resolution by the Organisation of American States.

In Barbados, most people believe in the literal truth of the old Middle-Eastern Adam & Eve creation myth; it’s the only place I’ve actually heard people say, sincerely, “Evolution is a theory”. Most conversations I’ve overheard in supermarkets about the Pulse murders, e.g., have begun, and all have ended, with the sad recognition that the dead were sinners and deserved punishment.

No matter how desperately I want to know, I can’t be sure England will get past Iceland, or Bowie’s final album will turn out to be good when I finally get the chance to hear it, or if I’ll live long enough to see my children settled – but I know this for sure: gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex – what-firetrucking-ever – people are people, human beings with human rights, and they are facing the same hatred that black people have endured from the time they arrived in the New World.

And if my own people – English-speaking West Indians, the bulk of whom have been treated as inhuman for the bulk of our history – cannot recognise the humanity of others, I vote to reject my people as easily as Britain rejected Europe yesterday.

Unless, of course, Britain stayed in Europe; which would give me hope that the former slaves of my own land will be able to free their minds about the last hated minority of our time.

Do we connect to one another?

Or do I go it alone?

BC Pires is either spraying champagne all over the place or else pissing into the wind

Navigational Links

Stacks Image 82615