The sun illuminating these seeds caught my eye the other day. Aren’t they stunning? The way the light caught them they were glowing, almost as if the source of the light was from within them. When I looked closer I was stunned by their proliferation. It seemed they just suddenly appeared in the corner of the field. Look how soft and fluffy they are! There are various ways for plants to travel around the world, catching the wind is one of them, and it’s the method this particular plant intends to use.
What popped into my mind after I took this photo was part of a review of a book about the history of France which was published in “Le Monde” the other day. I know, that sounds strange, but bear with me. The part which really caught my attention was the author’s statement of his intention – he wanted to write a history of France from the perspective of the global forces which have shaped it, rather than the more traditional approach which focuses on personalities and events within France. It’s a shift from thinking of a country as a separate entity to be understood by looking within, to thinking of a country as it emerges in relationship with global phenomena – especially the global phenomena which pass over frontiers and the ones for which borders are irrelevant.
Migrants and goods pass over frontiers. They always have, and they always will. The British government’s determination to harden its borders focuses on the first of these – the movement of people. They seem to see people moving from one country to another as THE problem, which, if solved (they mean stopped completely or at least significantly), will allow a flourishing, healthy, happy country to emerge. However, at the same time, they want the free flow of the second of these phenomena – goods – claiming they want to create a “free trade” “global” Britain (as if they even knew what “free trade” is).
My own feeling is that of Europe’s “four freedoms” – freedom of movement of people, goods, services and capital – a government’s desire to stop only one of these reveals its underlying values. It’s the freedom of people they want to inhibit, not the freedom of goods, services and money.
The historian went on to describe some other country-shaping phenomena which pass over frontiers – ideas, symbols, pandemics, climate and technological revolutions. I think he could have at least added stories because whether its “fake news” or life-shaping mythologies, stories spread amongst human beings irrespective of frontiers.
Whether its the spread of the politics of populism, the scattering of radiation over thousands of miles after nuclear power plant disasters such as Chernobyl or Fukushima, global warming, the spread of “particle pollution” in the air, the actions of multinational corporations, or the growth of global economic inequality….there are countless examples of this insight that what shapes a country are the phenomena which cross frontiers.
No country can be understood from a narcissistic perspective which sees itself as disconnected and walled off in this world we all share.
The question facing us all is “how are we going to live together?” Because we all ARE living TOGETHER.
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