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“Fear – false evidence appearing real.” Tony Robbins. Among others.

One of the most popular news stories at the moment (in Britain) is the forthcoming EU Referendum, where the populace will be asked whether or not they wish to remain part of the European Union. For those not in the loop, the UK joined the ‘European Economic Community’ in 1973. I was 11. My recollection was that we were joining what was actually termed The Common Market, and the objective was free trade and improved economic relationship. It was not, in my own memory, about the creation of an arguably undemocratic, powerful and authoritative quasi-state which dictated rules and laws on its members. But that is what it became. (I think I may have tipped my hand…..)

One of the major talking points in the In-Out Campaign is the apparent, reported focus by the ‘In’ crowd on raising the spectres of what might/will happen if we leave, which appears to include everything short of war (which the Brits would win because the French would surrender and the Germans would trip over their mullets and we’d bribe the Italians). Every ‘In’ story appears to focus on the negatives of leaving rather than on the positives of staying. The campaign motto seems to be “Frighten the population into opposing change.” If I looked I’m sure I’d see examples of the ‘Out’ Team using fear as well.

Either of which is a betrayal of a belief in people to cope with, face and overcome the unknown. In life, as in this referendum, there are imponderables. We may have authoritative information upon which to make any life decision, we may have beliefs and values that point us, by default or through design, in a certain direction. But ultimately, principles govern and what will be will be. What happens will be the consequence of principles, which in turn will be affected by all sorts of events, most of which we cannot anticipate. Who expected the Tsunami, 9/11, the US earthquakes, and so on? We coped because we had to, and because we also had the benefit of principles that had guided us through disasters before.

Bad example, in a way. Hopefully any exit from (or remaining in) the EU will NOT be a disaster.

But one thing is certain – if we remain through fear, we will continue complaining about the things which dismay us as a country now. If we remain it must be because it is the better option.

We must face the fear that remaining will cause increased integration despite our misgivings. Whatever rules the super-state chooses to impose will be legally enforceable. We do know that it makes our rules and if we remain then rules we don’t anticipate may come into being.

We must face the fear that leaving may have trade implications (can’t see how, most salesmen sell to ANYONE who will buy, and any trade embargo on a democratic state would arguably breach international law but maybe I’m being naïve).

One principle remains true. Whatever happens, there will be consequences (as French chief Francois Hollande put it in his own efforts to frighten us). There will be those consequences we consider ‘good’, and I’m sure there will be those we consider ‘bad’. Whichever ‘side’ you take.

Although if we choose to overcome fear as the false evidence it so often is, I’m sure that the ‘bad’ will be addressed, solutions found, action taken and the ‘bad’ turned into opportunity. And to be frank, nothing changes without facing fear.

Therefore, cards on the table. I’m for ‘Out’ just to see what challenges – and opportunities – result. I will use the Three Resolutions to obey principles, act in accordance with my personal mission statement, continue seeking to be a person of good character and as professional as I can, and to serve those in my circle of influence. No super state can stop me doing that if that is how I choose to live, and no challenge will defeat me if we leave. I will continue to be who I am, wherever and whenever that may be. But the same applies if we remain.

Stephen Covey suggested in the Seven Habits that having an unchangeable core – in this case a personal mission statement – enables us to cope with whatever changes occur around us.

If you think like that, perhaps you’ll also be willing to accept the decisions that don’t go your way, instead of calling the ‘other side’ names for not agreeing with you? For the simple reason that no decision made by others can present any meaningful change on the self-made rules that tell you the way to live YOUR life.


Three Resolutions – available at Amazon HERE in paperback, or HERE for Kindle.