It is difficult at this time, and until the dust begins to settle from the EU Referendum on June 23rd, to keep that subject out of various discussions. So before I talk about “Charity begins at home”, let me first start talking about the EU Referendum. I had hoped that I have pitched in with my views along with reasons why I will be voting to Leave (click here), but there continues to be developments and I feel compelled to respond, realizing many have still to make up their minds. While I respect others who see things differently and I am not a fan of many of the leading Leave campaigners, I will continue to urge whoever whose ear I have it will be better to vote “Leave”.
One of the disappointments, although not a surprise, is the poor standard of argument and the amount of acrimony by many advocating the Remain position. In fairness that is likely just as true with those advocating the Leave position. After all, the amount of money we save by not paying contributions if we were to leave the EU is nowhere near the amount many Leavers have claimed, and it is disingenuous to say all this can be spent on needs in the NHS when some of those that shout loudest have shown scant commitment to keeping the NHS in the public domain. Similarly one friend who takes critics of the EU to task who say it is anti democratic when MEPs are elected by proportional representation and we have an unelected House of Lords, misses the point given MEPs have little real power and the Commons have significantly more power than the Lords anyway. But the argument can go on, e.g. what is the truth behind trade tariffs and will Britain’s position as a trading nation were we to leave be better or worse off?
But it is the following statement currently doing its rounds on Facebook (and receiving “Likes” by a number of my friends) that has made me see red. “IF THE LEAVE CAMPAIGN WAS ABOUT HOW BRITAIN COULD CONTRIBUTE MORE TO THE WORLD IF IT LEFT THE EU THEN I’D BE INTERESTED. BUT IT’S NOT. IT’S ABOUT HOW BRITAIN CAN TAKE MORE FROM THE WORLD – AND HOW IT CAN KEEP THE REST OF THE WORLD IT CAN KEEP THE REST OF THE WORLD OUT. COME ON BRITAIN – WE’RE BETTER THAN THAT”. I thought I would come up with my alternative poster, hoping it might also be well received:
One of the gripes about the EU is that it is a “closed” shop and some of the poorer African farmers for example find they cannot export cheaper food to the EU, one of the things I would hope will change if we left the EU and demonstrate my commitment to keeping the World IN as opposed to OUT. As for any cost savings from leaving, I would hope some of that will go to helping the world’s poor and in a way that is wise (although admittedly not all Brexiters will quite see it that way). And taboot, while curbing immigration is a generally agreed desired outcome for most Brexiters, I would hope we can do more for genuine sanctuary seekers – all of which brings me nicely on to my “Charity begins at home” point.
As a young person, I was told on a number of occasions, by older and wiser people, that “Charity begins at home”. They were sometimes right and that same advice could still be given (ask my family). We do have a responsibility for those closest to us, like our family and those close to us, and if we go about helping those in need (in my case it could be the homeless) and neglect those we have responsibility for then we are not acting quite in the way we ought. Yet the poor and needy are all around us, and if we were to look beyond our national borders we would see even more poor and needy who are crying out for help. My reading of the second great commandment (“love thy neighbor as thyself”) and of Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan is that we do have a responsibility toward the foreigner that is in need (and to hide behind self and home interest alone is going against God), and is what I try to do.
One of my arguments for leaving the EU is that we would be throwing of the restrictions that bind us to an organization that in my view has done not enough in terms of giving help to where help is most needed and focusing more on imposing petty barriers than showing moral leadership in the world at large, thus setting us free to do what the British people see as needing doing rather than conform to the whims of unelected bureaucrats. Moreover, there will be a net gain by stopping the EU gravy train and vanity projects that can be diverted toward helping where help in most needed (if any wants to know where, I can suggest – the needs are endless).
As for charity beginning it at home, that is where it does begin and as a country we indeed do need to put our house in order, something less likely if beholden to the EU. But it doesn’t stop there, for the whole world is my neighbor, and whether Remain or Leave, we cannot force love, my gut feel is we can do so better Out than In.