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Why the strength and courage of the Catalan fight for Independence so torments the Government of Spain

Why the strength and courage of the Catalan fight for Independence so torments the Government of Spain

... and why a strong minority represents such a threat

Earlier this week, a million Catalan people gathered in the streets of Barcelona in a show of their support and determination for independence from Spain. The video below shows the nature of that event; and it's reflective of what I have already come to know and love of the Catalan people; strong, peaceful, courageous, joyful, family oriented, all of which traits are reflective of their culture and traditions.

If, like me, you have been largely unaware of this situation between Spain and its integral state of Catalunya, it dates back three centuries, to a period of war when Spain defeated the Catalans and incorporated it by force in to its own constitution. Despite this Catalunya has maintained its own identity and has retained its strength and integrity as an economic force.

Cataln Flag in Vilanova i La GeltruAnd it's that strength that so frustrates and angers the Government of Spain, which is so adamantly determined to retain Catalunya as apart of its sovereignty, that is prepared to renounce the vote scheduled for the 1st of October, as illegal. Spain's President, who is attempting to prosecute Catalunya's 700 Mayors for supporting the vote, has called the Referendum "an intolerable act of disobedience", which declaration is in itself enough to demonstrate a leader so desperately inept at creating a unified Spain that he must admonish the Catalan Mayors like children and attempt to send them to the naughty step. 


Spain is exploiting Catalunya's economic strength

It is this economic power that makes it so dangerous for Spain to relinquish its control over the region. There are 18 states in Spain and yet Catalunya contributes 19% of Spain's GDP. In return, Spain only delivers half of that back to support Catalunya's infrastructure and growth. And further than that, Spain steadfastly refuses to support Catalunya's desire to retain its cultural identity, implementing punishing policies that oppress this proud people's rights to their traditions, blocks their development and prevents them from implementing local development plans that will allow them to flourish. In fact, I have seen with my own eyes, how the Spanish Government manipulates the media to unfairly represent Catalunya in the eyes of wider Spain, by which it is largely treated with disdain, even though it is quite obviously one of the strongest regions in the country. During the recent atrocity in Barcelona, some of the vitriol that was aimed at the Catalan people was almost beyond comprehension with comments such as there should not be too much concern over what happened since "it was only Catalans that died."

The Spanish Government is exercising the same kind of dictatorial control and oppression that seem so dangerously prevalent in other major Western countries in recent months and years. The US and UK included.

If Spain, by contrast, had accepted the Catalans right to their culture, adopted some of their strengths as a nation and treated it with equality within the context of wider Spain, then there is a chance that Catalunya would not be seeking the vote as it currently is.


Growth and stability of the whole is compromised by lack of integration

The need for oppression comes out of fear and the recognition that you have little positive influence. Oppression is a sign of weakness. It is the typical human response of the majority over a strong minority that we see not just in politics but in every form of human interaction. From the family group upwards. When a minority defies the rules of the majority, even if the reasons for that defiance are positive, that minority will generally be either controlled by the majority to comply with its rules, or ejected and rejected. There are few circumstances under which the minorities differences will be acknowledged and incorporated so that the group can stay together as an evolved whole. Despite all our incredible achievements in this world, in terms of science or economy for example, we seem inexplicably incapable of evolving our human ability to co-exist with equality. And it seems the lowest common denominator prevails. Intelligence and strength is met with disdain and dismissal, ridicule and punitive control and oppression. Ignorance cannot negotiate, it can only seek to contain.

This inherent behaviour not only massively stifles our growth and development and inhibits freedom, it is a fundamental prevention to individual and human development that threatens to undermine our very existence.

Spain is just one example of this catastrophic inability to live with basic humanitarian rights as a core of our social and political rules, but it will soon be tested for its ability to adapt and adopt a more globally acceptable understanding to the rights of people to exist within their own culture and be accepted for who they are. I for one, hope that Catalunya not only receive the right to their vote for independence, but also to win it and to show the World what can be done if we are allowed to flourish within our own culture, accepting that we must co-operate with those who live differently to us.

Sant Jordi’s Day: A Celebration of Love and Life

Sant Jordi’s Day: A Celebration of Love and Life

Yesterday was Sant Jordi’s Day here in Catalunya in Spain – it’s the equivalent of our Saint Valentine’s Day in the UK, but this is an altogether different kind of celebration, one which I wish we could echo. I was lucky enough to experience my first with Anna, my partner in life and love, in the coastal town of Vilanova I La Geltru

There are many differences that make this day such a special experience, one which is far freer of the commercialism and cynicism that seems now far more obvious to me about St Valentines.

For one, here, as in so many of their traditions, it is much more of a community event. Many towns here have a Rambla (and Vilanova has one of the longest in Spain) where it is customary to wonder the street, meet friends and family, have a coffee and enjoy the sunshine and the atmosphere. It’s a fabulous vibe on most days, but on Sant Jordi’s its’ even more special. The street is lined with stalls selling roses – and books. Here, the tradition is to buy not just a rose, but also a book for your loved ones You wonder down the avenue together in the company of thousands, all celebrating each other, love and life.

The original tradition springs from the legend of Sant Jordi  – and the story is similar to our own legend of Saint George, the dragon slayer. But in the case of Sant Jordi, after he has saved his Princess and slayed the dragon, a rose grows from the blood of the dragon’s heart. So on the anniversary of this day it has been the custom for a man to buy a rose for their Princess and for their Princess in return to buy a book for them.

But it has now become more of a celebration of love for everyone, not just romantic love, but of love generally. You see everyone carrying roses, men, women, children – and pets!! This is as much about expressing familial love or friendship as the love you feel for your partner. In the UK, Valentines Day has become way too much of a pressure, particularly in heterosexual relationships, to spend a fortune making grand gestures to prove the power of your love. Here, it is far more about the thought. The tradition is to buy just one rose, but to choose it carefully for its meaning. It will probably cost you no more than 3 euros.

For the flower, your choice might be about the meaning of colour, red, white, yellow, even blue!! Or you might make your selection based on the charity or foundation that the sellers are supporting; humanitarian, animals, politics, religion, education and many other causes that you and your loved ones might like to support.

And then there is the book. I absolutely love this as a way of sharing not just your love for each other, but your life. Every book, whether a fictional story or a non fiction work, offers something valuable. Whether it be a lesson, history, information or simply entertainment. Wondering by the book stalls and seeing people thinking about the books they will buy is a joyful experience.

For the whole day wondering through the city, you see everyone with roses, no age, gender, persuasion, race, relationship status or even species excepted. It is a day of celebration of love and life, it is a day in which you see and feel so much expression of it that it is literally true to say that love is in the air. And the simplicity of it is extraordinary. To enjoy it; to feel it; all you have to do is walk down the street and just breathe.

Heaven on Earth

Heaven on Earth

Siurana, Catalunya

On the first day of 2017 I visited a magical place in the company of magical people. Not in a fantasy land of media making, but a real one here on earth. It was the third time I have experienced that feeling of being in a heavenly place in recent times – and I realised that on each occasion, it involved a sense of being above the clouds – and in amazing light. The first time was at Machu Picchu, where the sun rose over a distant peak and spread its glorious rays through a carpetSunrise over Machu Picchu, Peru of clouds that rose between the mountains. It was ethereal. The second time was on a plane as I gazed at the Supermoon recently, it shone across a stretch of cotton wool sea, as we flew above it. And the third time was on New Year’s Day at Siurana in Catalunya, where the clouds again rose between the peaks and the sun’s setting light made for an almost surreal view, you know, one that you look at in retrospect in a picture and can’t quite believe that you really saw it?

Each time, the thought crossed my mind, “this is heaven on earth”.

But this time it also occurred to me that contemplating the nature of heaven is just like contemplating the nature of life. Ultimately, when there are no real facts to hold on to (and when you really think about it, very few hard facts actually exist), our experience and understanding come down to what we choose to believe. And that belief is personal to each of us and ours to own. Recent events in my life have brought me to the belief that we – and everything around us, far beyond what our eyes can see - exist of and in light. We are light and our light shines beyond our current lifetime and across boundaries we barely know exist. That belief helps me to now experience life with more gratitude, simplicity and happiness than before. And with less fear.

Heaven is not just a place that we go to when we pass from this lifetime, neither is it just a place on earth, it is wherever, whatever or however we perceive it to be, either real or imagined. We do not have to be constrained by the understanding, beliefs or knowledge of others. We each have our own truth. We can create our heaven with the pure magic of our own belief… and what is even more magical, is that we can choose what we want that to be…