Being a European country is a bit like living on a troubled housing estate. One where drugs, crime, ignorance and poverty blights the lives of its residents. Faced with these huge problems there are really only two ways you can go.
One way of dealing with the situation would be to shut yourself in your flat. Double bolt the door. Draw the curtains. It’s an understandable reaction, but it’s one that condemns you to live in misery and fear. Mutual distrust builds between you and your neighbours. You’re trapped within your four walls and you wait for the inevitable day when a brick comes flying through your window.
We know it is better to be stronger, to go out into your community, to engage with your neighbours and work together to solve your problems. After all, it’s only by collaborating that you have the combined weight to do something about the crime and the drugs that are ruining everyone’s lives. Together you have the ideas and resources to begin to solve some of the estate’s most intractable problems.
By working together with your neighbours you find out you have a lot in common and also gain a better understanding of your differences. You make friends. Your life is enhanced by belonging to a community. As you start to solve the problems on the estate you notice too that local businesses start to invest more in the area. Jobs are created. Your community becomes more prosperous.
Yesterday Britain started to close the door on its neighbours and retreat behind it’s four walls. But Britain can’t win that way. Our lives will be poorer. Our problems won’t be solved. Our relationships with our neighbours will sour.
It’s not too late to change course, to start engaging again, to work together with our neighbours, but we need to do it soon.