I’ve had some time to reflect over the weekend. Over the last few days, there has been a lot of turmoil across the country. People have been spreading hate and bile and vitriol, and using the excuse of democracy to do so. I have never seen such a divide and it’s reminiscent of times of real political unrest in the past. I woke up on Friday morning and felt genuinely saddened – not because I ‘lost’ and Leave ‘won’ (something which I have seen written on countless people’s political posts of late) and not because I need to ‘get over it’ (as above). Instead, I felt sad that this could have been a real opportunity to engage people positively in politics, but instead, it has fostered a blame culture that I have never experienced before – both in and out of Westminster.
People in the streets screaming blue murder at a Polish mother. French students being told to ‘fuck off back to your own country’. Practising Muslims being spat at on their way to prayer. All in the name of ‘ENGLAND’. All in the name of patriotism.
I don’t believe in the Leave campaign. But this is not a rant from a Remainer. I also don’t believe in the Remain campaign. I am not apathetic, I am not sitting on the fence and I am not politically inactive.
So what do I believe in?
I believe in beautiful and diverse culture. I believe in language. I believe in love. I believe in ‘tolerance’ and ‘acceptance’, but believe that we shouldn’t simply tolerate and accept – I believe in welcoming with open arms, in passionate equality and in a world where there is no need to be tolerant and accepting, because it is innate and bred through generations, not because it’s the right thing to do, or makes you the bigger person. Ultimately, I believe in a world of mutual respect, of safety, whether that is in the EU or out. I know this world may be naive, and that my thinking may be idealistic, because it’s not in human nature, but I’ll never give up hope.
I won’t sit and slag off the ‘older generation’ – they did, ultimately, come out in their droves, whereas 18-24 year old voter turnout was pitiful. But what needs to happen? 18-24 year olds need to made to feel like politics cares about them, otherwise how can we expect them to care about politics? Hell, I’m just disappointed 17 and 18 year olds didn’t get the vote. Take a chance on them – you might be surprised. Some of the teenagers I know are the most considered and kind and balanced human beings I’ve met. They relish trust.
I won’t call everyone a racist, just because they wanted to leave. There are many flaws with the EU and there are many valid reasons to vote Leave. But what needs to happen? Everyone needs to understand that there is a difference between every voter, which is what makes Britain so wonderful. Similarly, people need to understand the differences between the words which are so blatantly blurred. I love the power of language, and it’s clear just how powerful it can be; asylum seeker, migrant, refugee, immigrant, illegal immigrant… The media seems to make these words interchangeable… Quite a skill.
I won’t say that the decision is wrong. We are incredibly lucky to live in a democratic culture. It does have it’s flaws, the system isn’t perfect, but we are incredibly fortunate that we are able to argue over what a hero one politician is and what a tosser another is. But what needs to happen? Everyone needs to see the beauty of the passion that people feel and channel it into the right sources. Don’t tell people to ‘get over it’ – 48% of people voted to remain in the EU and they are quite right to be upset. This kind of passion in politics is exactly what we’ve been missing. Equally, don’t tell people they’re stupid – all it does is make you look petty, and it’s not true. 52% of the country are not stupid. Out of the 100% of the country, some people probably are, but they won’t take kindly to you telling them so, and too right.
We need to stop seeing it as ‘winning’ and ‘losing’ – Britain is not a gigantic playground littered with swings and roundabouts. No – what needs to happen is we need to channel our jubilation or devastation to turn this into the best thing it can be. People who wanted to leave should be mindful of how nearly half the country feels and consider how the departure can be carried out sensitively. People who wanted to stay need to consider how we can make the future brighter.
Because only we have the power to do so.
On a lighter note… Game of Thrones though.