When I recently attempted to explain to my five year old why there were lots of red posters saying ‘Vote Leave’ on her way to school, I received a fascinating insight into the mind of a child. The conversation went as follows:
5 year old: ‘Mummy, what does that mean?’
Me: ‘It’s about a decision that grown-ups are making. We have to decide whether
our country wants to stay being a member of a club.’
5 year old: ‘What sort of club?’
Me: ‘It’s a club called the European Union. It’s made up of lots of countries in Europe, like France and Germany. Some people think that we should stay being a member of the club, but other people think it costs too much money and that it has too many rules.’
5 year old: ‘That sign says we should leave the club.’
Me: ‘That’s right. The person who put that sign there, thinks we should leave.’
5 year old: ‘Why don’t they want to be a member of the club Mummy? Isn’t it better to be in clubs and have lots of friends? Aren’t we friends with France and Germany?’
Me: ‘We will still be friends with them even if we are not in the club.’
5 year old: ‘Didn’t we have a war with Germany in the olden days when there was lots of fighting? I remember we all wore poppies to remember it. I liked the poppies.’
It’s difficult to argue with that viewpoint. It’s wonderfully innocent and free of the baggage of fear, anger and jealousy that adulthood brings. It’s a shame we have to grow up really.
It brings to mind John Donne’s famous poem, ‘No man is an island.’
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
It is a piece of poetic history that reminds us to question whether we can thrive in isolation. In this case, that now remains to be seen.