Journal

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2016/06/29

WHAT IS IT TO BE A EUROPEAN?

I watched the BBC news from Berlin with dropped jaw last week. The implications of the vote are so so far reaching from every aspect from the economy, to the conventions of human rights, to the open borders of Europe, to the rise of the Right Wing, to the divisions in Europe, to the ending of the Erasmus scheme for students, to the effects of people like myself enjoying a free and connected life in the heart of Europe. My most recent journey was an exploration of Europe and what it means to be a European. Here are some emotional thoughts at the end of the 2 months traveling through my own continent, and learning about the lives of refugees, aid workers, volunteers and locals.

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2016/06/14

SHADOWLANDS

When I set out this year with Basti, we didn’t have a plan, or any fixed notion of what lay ahead. It was about going into the shadows, to take a look for ourselves. So much troubled me before setting off; what we’d discover, how we’d be received, whether we could make a contribution. In particular, I had a deep sense that there was a darkness over Europe. I feel it still. It seems to have many forms. There seems to be so much fear. Suspicion of others. There seems to be so much worry of ourselves and our own lives, that traditional European values – looking out for your neighbour, putting someone in need first, looking after children, empathising with what someone else has gone through – seem to be forgotten, or at least somehow suspended. There is nothing political about this video. It’s just some clips put together by a couple of friends, trying to muscle up, make something of value, and to record what’s in front of them. What I can say, is that as we stepped into the shadows we found nothing to fear. In fact, I feel like we discovered its opposite. The heart of humanity. That heart lives in the darkness of the chest, beneath the light. But it causes life. That’s how I feel about the people I met along the journey. And I mean all of them – the refugees, the aid workers, the locals, the volunteers, the Europeans. This journey has somehow become a metaphor for what I value most in life. And not because of anything sentimental – but because in so much of my own doubt, I discovered a renewed faith in things. And in so much of the hurt and destroyed lives of the people I met, I found a dignity, a compassion, a love, which seemed on the surface so at odds with what they were “meant” to feel. The song is not political. It’s not about Brexit, Grexit, anarchism, hooliganism, militantism, this-ism, that-ism. It’s about taking a step back because no matter what colour, class, creed or culture, we do have to cross this river together. Whether one likes it or not. So yup, I do think its time to overcome, to be renewed, to take a leap of faith, to discover something higher, to dam well believe that something is possible other than whatever is in front of us today. A challenge either makes you who you are, or it makes you become a coward. And I have too much dam faith in people and in things to believe that the future of our continent, or our planet can, or will, be based on cowardice. And the more I journey the more I believe that there is a greater undercurrent growing, world wide, of people who believe the same thing. And all the rest, the wars, the bombs, the corruption in the financial markets, the vested interests, the inability to empathise, is just temporary, just surface. Because fuck it, regardless, there is nothing more revolutionary than love. And nothing more enduring.

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2016/06/03

The Challenge of One's Contribution

When I set out on the “Journeys” project I didn’t have much of a sense of what lay ahead. I knew that I had a guitar and a camera, and a will to engage and experience the world in a new way. The capturing of what I discover happens on film, and its interpretation happens in song. My hope has always been that in combining them, that I might be able to offer a different perspective than what is reported in the news. Having traveled across China, Africa, Russia and Europe so far, I’ve found that the most beautiful things often lay in the darkest corners. That the deepest insights often happen when you are most alone. That you learn more about yourself the deeper into the unknown you venture. I find that most people have a kind heart, despite how things sometimes appear. When you’re lost, people help. When you are hungry, someone will feed you. When you’re honest, someone will give something back of themselves. Anyway, there’s so much more that I have to learn. How one can make a contribution in one’s life, and hopefully to the world, is one of life’s greatest challenges. But I feel that to explore it – how we engage, how we involve, how we give, is one of life’s great adventures. And like all adventures, you have breakthrough’s, you make mistakes, you grow, learn, discover, and hopefully at the last, contribute something. Anyway, at the moment, I’m continuing my exploration of how experience, film & music can combine to offer something. Peaceful evening all & more to come.

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