Europe. The referendum. Brexit. #VoteLeave. Remain. It’s all we’ve heard about for the last few months, one of the most important decisions our generation will face. But instead of inspiring and moving people into action one way or the other,many people have become frustrated and disillusioned at the lack of truth and clarity in the debate. Amidst all this empty chat about politics, economics and sovereignty, the issues that probably matter most are being ignored. The values on which the EU is based: Co-operation, unity, benevolence, justice, equality, diversity, and the way these are promoted and encouraged across member states and, by extension, the world. These are the aspects of the EU that politicians can’t put a figure on or fit into a neat soundbite, but they are the issues which will affect real people the most if we vote for a Brexit.
The EU as a community is committed to tackling the biggest problems affecting people today in Europe and beyond, and bringing about social change. But this truth has somehow become lost in the endless campaigns, debates and media coverage. A lot is said, for starters, about the huge chunk of our country’s resources that is sent to Brussels every month. What isn’t mentioned is what then happens to it all. The fact is, the EU is the world’s largest foreign aid donor, setting aside a staggering €7,292m a year to tackling global poverty and inequality where help is most needed. As members of the EU we are contributing directly to fighting the biggest issues in the world, the real issues: Poverty, inequality, injustice.There are plenty of other possible uses for this money, but I can’t think of a cause I’d rather see my government committed to.
The EU’s open border policy also provides opportunity for people, whatever their need, to get the help or refuge they need. In Scotland, for example, we recently took in over 300 Syrian refugees, under the direction of the EU. The Bible clearly advises that we should give help to those most in need of it, regardless of nationality or ethnicity, and being part of the EU enables and encourages us to look beyond our borders and see and address problems others in our world face. Isolating ourselves and building up barriers only lessens the opportunities to offer the resource we have to those in need.
Closer to home, the EU law and court of human rights are bringing greater social justice in the UK, in the form of greater pay equality, protection against discrimination, more rights for victims of crimes, and policies dedicated to combatting human trafficking. Many are sceptical of living under laws made in Brussels, but I’d be far more worried about whether the rights and freedoms we have in the EU would all be upheld if the Leave campaign gets a win on Thursday.
The unity that European nations have through the EU is something that must not be taken for granted. Global society today deals with so many massive challenges and dangers – inequality, poverty, terrorism, war. These are all threats we all face regardless of nationality. There is strength in unity and the history of the EU shows that great strides can be made in taking on global social problems when countries and people are united. The EU is a rare beacon of cooperation and friendship in a world full of war and division, and this is something that should surely be valued, celebrated and held onto. Everything the EU represents are things I believe we as people, and we as a country, need to stand for.
Ultimately, what is most important is that we each consider all the facts and information available and make a decision we genuinely believe will be have the best possible outcome. Then on Friday, whether in a divided or united Europe, let’s continue to pray for those in power, challenge injustices, and look for ways to help the disadvantaged in society.
Words by Josh Horsman