Conflict and calm

Or contentious and confused – don’t read this if history or politics cause you irritation…

When we were visiting family and friends in the UK, we made sure we had time to hike and visit old forts, castles, and a church or two. In each of these places, we were happy enough to wander around enjoying the fine stonework, impressive views, and sense of calm.

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Skenfrith Castle, Monmouthshire, Welsh-English border
This is quite odd if you think about it. These sites were often originally built to contain or quell the local population, to prevent any notion of rebellion or challenge to the social order. Britain has a long and bloody history of invasion and conquest, and, as with many places, this can result in a legacy of celebration, memorial days, patriotism, discontent, misplaced patriotism, jingoism, unpleasant nationalism and all positions in between.

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As promised a little while ago, on to Brexit, and the fall out from that vote. I find myself unable to let it go, and we haven’t lived there for fifteen years. Your past follows you, you can’t escape it (not that we’re trying to!) OK, Brexit. For the record, I’d have voted to remain, as I believe, imperfect though it is, membership of the EU is an overall positive. Remember, the EU has its origins as a postwar solution. Many leave campaigners complained of the interfering powers in Brussels meddling with the financial interests of the UK. ImageI’d have thought that one economic argument is that humans gain more overall when they cooperate and be positive, because it is better to expend effort and resources in collaboration rather than conflict. I know, strange notion that. Be less destructive, more constructive. Aim to value differences instead of pointing them out (you know, not appealing to base ideas or wilfully exploiting the ill-informed in order to make economic or political gains at the expense of a particular group or groups…oh alright, I’ll go there – imagine the laziness in “explaining” and “communicating” your policies in 140 characters or less – eek!)

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Roman Fort (Mediobogdum), Hardknott, Eskdale
Given that Britain has a population grown from a huge variety of influxes (including but not limited to Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Danes, Franks, Normans, Gauls, and Romans in earlier history, to more recent immigration from all parts of the globe) it seems strange to me that, of those who voted,  52% to 48% voted themselves out of Europe. This was, in part, a response to a campaign that appealed to xenophobia – and certainly involved racist comments and behaviour before, during, and after the vote.

As an aside in a post full of asides, why would you – and how on earth do you – even begin to decide who is “other” given this wonderfully diverse history? We are all other, and that’s great! Isn’t it? (As in many other places, the strains of racism and xenophobia have often been present in the UK, but, to my mind, the campaign and result seem to have made the holders of these views feel that their toxic notions have somehow been legitimized, and that’s appalling…)

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Me and my sort have been Roman around here for years…
As with all upheavals, and regardless of liking the result or not, one would hope that calmness will prevail, and work undertaken to try and unite what appears to be a very fractured country. The solutions won’t come easy, and it is hard to be optimistic, but perhaps lessons can be learned. (C’mon, USA, you don’t have to go with the wall building bigot in November. Even if you find the alternative hard to stomach, take what is left of the moral high ground, and go for the lesser of two evils – just a thought – Canada doesn’t want to build a wall!)

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Apologies for the incoherent nature of this post. And to think, they let me teach history! These are some of the swirling thoughts I have after our UK visit, and after hours and hours of conversations with many different people, as we try to make sense of it. Making sense of our history is something that most nations are constantly engaged in. Be nice to think that sometimes we can get it right, or admit to and learn from previous mistakes. In the meantime, those castles and forts today are places of peace, often found in beautiful locations, and rightly celebrated and enjoyed by many – and that’s something of a consolation.

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Consoling view from Hardknott over Eskdale
Thanks for reading, please feel free to share a story or leave a comment, and have a wonderful weekend!

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The keep, Skenfrith Castle
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Norman church, Monmouthshire

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I am a would be outdoorsman - that is if I had more time, skills and knowledge. When I can, I love being outdoors, just camping, hiking, snowboarding, xc skiing, snowshoeing, paddling a canoe or trying something new. What I lack in ability, I make up for in enthusiasm and having a go. I'd never really survive for long out there in the wild, but I enjoy pretending I could if I had to...

18 thoughts on “Conflict and calm”

  1. You’re as steadfast and consoling a writer, PC, as those forts and castles so well-pictured are to the landscape and our Euro-histories on both sides of the Atlantic. Thank you for helping to make sense of all the political chaos and nonsense going on places like merry old Britain and the U.S.A. The post is a pleasure to read and meditate on. Teach on, man!


    1. Glad you appreciated this one, Walt. It was all rather muddled as I was writing, but I wanted to say something about Trump’s dreadful attempts in appealing to the worst in us, and it connected to how politicians in the UK exploited fears about Europe.
      We live in interesting times – but our parents and grandparents would have said the same…
      School starts in earnest tomorrow, and very much looking forward to it. Enjoy your week!


    1. Thank you for your kind words! Our little corner of the blogosphere seems mercifully free of trolls. When I’m out and about, I do like to look under bridges, just in case…
      Have a good week!


  2. I read your post and I am allergic to politics but I found your writing to be interesting and oh boy, I don’t even want to think about November! I am staying out of that quagmire! It behooves me that we have “those two” (of course) as our only choice. Oh well, at least I have my little corner of the world to paint it calm and forget about it all. Blessings!


      1. Oh I forgot to mention that November will be interesting….yes….but also painful, I’ll be watching what happens with my hand up to my face, peeking through my fingers! painful indeed. Oh well, history and time marches on. I’ll be going out to the river a lot during this time, to get some nature drug in me. lol

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The day it was clear that Britan had voted to leave the EU we were all surprised here in Norway. I think no one really thought it was going to be a reality. Your post reminded me of a text from a photo I saw somewhere in social media:

    ”America and Britan are having a competition on who can f**k themselves up the most. Britian is in the lead, but America has a trump card…”


  4. Sigh! We are in such agreement and find the votes for Brexit and Trump truly appalling. We live with the hope that people will educate themselves about the facts and issues – and not “what will I get out of this” in determining how to vote. But we trudge forward, one peaceful step at a time, and celebrate the little and sometime big victories that do happen.


    1. Education is the key! We’ve got our fingers crossed that, come November, enough people will have thought through the issues carefully, and vote accordingly. You have to hope…
      Thanks, and have a wonderful week!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderful historical photos and I enjoyed the view of Eskdale. I love the study of history and have always leaned toward an interest in the social and cultural history of the people over the wars and politics, but you can never really study one without the other. It is a shame that a political move by David Cameron within his own party put the Brexit vote in motion and, just like the media, he probably believed all the way up until the vote was taken that the voters would choose to remain (one should never underestimate the fear, anger and disillusionment of voters). It’s interesting that many of the major players from both sides disappeared so quickly after the vote. I certainly hope all the people who were searching google the day after the vote to find out what Brexit and the EU meant, were not the actual voters. In our state, we had political decisions made that resulted in the water supply for a city being contaminated. Again, decisions were made for financial and political reasons with devastating results. For the last year we have been stuck in a political nightmare reality show and I certainly hope your country does not build a wall, there could be many that want to escape after November. I’ve always been a fan of Canadian hockey teams and I’ve already read Justin Trudeau’s biography, Common Ground. Great post, lovely photos and I think I have exceeded 140 characters. Have a good weekend!


    1. Thank you for your wonderfully thoughtful comment! And for taking the time to use more than 140 characters.
      We are eyeing November with anxiety, but with some hope, too. Building a wall between Canada and the US would be too time-consuming when there are more important things to be concerned about – like hockey, and the hope that Canadian teams get to the playoffs this season.
      Have a wonderful week!

      Liked by 1 person

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