I’ve just been reading this fascinating book, Encountering the Dharma: Daisaku Ikeda, Soka Gakkai, and the Globalization of Buddhist Humanism
by a non-Buddhist, Richard Seager, who gives a really good, well-balanced investigation into Buddhism, the Soka Gakkai (SGI) and it’s meteoric rise in popularity under the inspirational personas of Makiguchi, Toda and Ikeda.
Well you’d expect it to be so as the author is a distinguished professor of religion.
Basically, he describes all of our quests for meaning during his own investigation into self and meaning following the death of his wife.
And now to the guts of it.
I’ve done the bulk of this reading on a few KLM flights to Austria and back. While in Austria, I hopped on a train to Hungary. Until this point my knowledge of Hungary was carped up with a vague unease of a police state, trains rattling across the night with spies and passport checks at every turn and labour camps for undesirables.
What a jolly lot! Don’t let the gloomy picture confuse you – the camera lies all the time and the cakes were delicious!
In fact by the time I returned to snowed-up, icy England, I was full of the warmth of humanity, their helpfulness and willingness to share.
Welcome to England.
Oh how the tables have turned, the twists and turns of circumstance and fate – or more likely the rampant paranoia that exists in the UK.
The UK is now like my previous vision of Hungary and the Iron Curtain. Now, I enter Britain, with my British passport, issued by British passport control (now an “agency”). It’s all so high-tech, it’s all so cute and efficient.
Is it fuck!
I’m now going to write to wacky backy jacky, asking her why anyone in the state needs to know what I’ve been doing in Europe. Because that’s what they asked me on my return, with my British passport as I entered Britain. Despite cross-border harmonisation and absolute, 100% signed-up freedom of movement, working and habitation since 1992, UK passport control wanted to know where and why I’d been – in EU Europe!
Funnily enough, no-one at Schipol, or Vienna or in Hungary asked that. When they saw my passport and that my astonishingly attractive visage matched that within the passport they let me through.
Not so in Britain. The fact that the passport that they issued isn’t good enough to let me in without asking for my previous life history beggars belief in a free state.
All the trans-national I.T. checks, up and down your journey – don’t count…
But there’s worse. Everyone with a UK passport check page 1. Inside the cover. There, plain as day, it says that THE QUEEN, her Brittannic Majesty, requests free passage on production of the passport to the holder…
without let or hindrance
– but we are let and we get hindered and treated as criminals for freely moving across borders that should have been accessible for 17 years now!
I’m not on about airplane bomb checks and the searches which are almost universally as smooth and as dignified as possible now. I’m on about entering my country of birth with a valid passport.
Will it get better with ID Cards? – will it fuck!
So, to repeat the words of Sir Ken Macdonald, former DPP;
“The tendency of the state to seek ever more powers of surveillance over its citizens may be driven by protective zeal. But the notion of total security is a paranoid fantasy which would destroy everything that makes living worthwhile. We must avoid surrendering our freedom as autonomous human beings to such an ugly future. We should make judgments that are compatible with our status as free people.”
And now to get back to little Eisenstadt in the Bergenland in Austria where I stayed. As a direct link to history, the above phrase is extremely pertinent.
Eisenstadt has two Jewish cemeteries, but no Jews.
Under the paranoid laws of 71 years ago, 466 civilians were carted off to the gas chambers. It’s their ancestors in the graves in Eisenstadt. They have no descendants.
Normal everyday people sent them on their way. I’ve met their descendants.
My point is that it’s the chip, chip, chipping away at common sense and sensibilities that’s the danger to us all.
- I want to be able to enter my country with my passport produced by my government without further interrogation. They have no right to know anything about my travels in this or any other EU state. It’s absolutely none of their business.
- I think people should read Seagar’s book and many others like it
- I think people should visit Jewish cemeteries in ordinary Austrian towns – Eisenstadt isn’t special, that’s the horror
- And I think people should closely question the things done by our government in our name. Our freedom is at stake.
See also jacqui-smith-paranoid-fantasist