Terror struck Brussels this week, now we must help each other

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV.com PLC.

Now is the time for all of us to stand together. [James Crisp]

At the beginning of Easter week, Brussels came under attack. We saw the aftermath of the metro bombing from the office window. Some of us had passed through the airport only a few hours before the explosions there. Everybody was affected. Everybody was shocked. Everybody was asking how it would all end, writes Scott Crosby.

Scott Crosby is an advocate and a human rights officer at ECBA.

Now everybody understands Kabul, Bagdad, Jerusalem, Gaza, Ankara, Istanbul, New York, Boston, London, Madrid, Glasgow, Paris and all the other places where people are blown out of existence in the name of we know not what.

It is difficult to work in a law office and argue legal niceties when barely 100 metres away corpses are being put into body bags and the injured taken en masse to hospitals calling for blood donors. Law is designed help us all live together. When it breaks down, one wonders, for a moment, if our skills are of any use. They are, of course, but there are these doubting moments, this Tuesday (22 March) being one of them, when we simply cannot apply them. So those who could, went home.

Human rights activists in Brussels were quick to declare that we must strive all the more to realise a world vision, where life, dignity and freedom for everyone are universally respected and where violence has no place. The message is that it is up to all of us to create the peaceful and tolerant world in which we want to live”.

That is the perfect message for moments such as this.

Note its elements: life, dignity and freedom, being the fundamentals to be respected universally as part of a world vision and the responsibility of each and every one of us to create the world of peace and tolerance we all want to live in.

To achieve this we need collective enforcement. So let the British government’s policy of individual human rights enforcement be quashed and buried as a dangerous aberration.

May also the peoples of the European Union understand that closer union means standing together not only when the going is good, but under all circumstances. Twenty five years ago, the BBC came to Brussels to interview Belgian school children on what they thought of the European Community. One seven year old said with a strong Flemish accent but in otherwise excellent English, “it means that when one country has a problem, the others will help it”. So, in simple terms, and this is a time we can and must speak like this, if we all have the same problem we must all help each other.

Let then the British people vote to help and to be helped by others.

The economic case for the UK’s membership of the EU is overwhelmingly powerful. It has been made by many, and in particular by the Economist, in terms all can understand. The environmental case for union is self-evident as are the logistical, fiscal, law enforcement, cultural, social and all other cases. The EU is a force for the good and for this it is to be cherished.

None of that is changed by the atrocities we have witnessed in Brussels on Tuesday. But let these atrocities, and those elsewhere as well, draw us all closer together to resist the forces of evil that would drive us apart through fear, prejudice, ignorance and hatred. Because only by drawing together will we achieve “the peaceful and tolerant world in which we want to live”.