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In search of the Brightside of Brexit

In search of the Brightside of Brexit

Why Brexit is causing me so much pain and why might it be a good thing (on some levels)?

So my first BIG caveat is, I know it’s not fair to blame all the (my) worlds ills on one event (Eventism?) or group of people (Etonianism/Idiotism?). And I consider myself a compassionate and broad thinking woman of the world but I have literally had to stop reading the papers/online news (again) for fear I flood my floor with tears. Why is it causing so much pain? What’s it all for? Is there any silver lining?

Here is my attempt to explain how I feel about the whole thing in an attempt to aid any of you out there that might be in a similar (independent) state and to try and draw some useful conclusions from this whole sorry mess.

  1. Shock – My jaw literally dropped to the floor the moment I heard the UK had voted out of Europe. I totally assumed that only a small group of grumpy old folk who miss how things used to be (change is painful I get it) / angry Britain First extremists who just want everything to be white (we’ll come to you later) / confused folk who weren’t sure what would be best so just guessed (and honestly seeing the state of the leave and remain campaigns I don’t blame you either) thought Leave would be a wise choice. But apparently the groundswell of anti-europe (or anti immigration, or anti regulation sized bananas or anti bureaucracy for the sake of it) sentiment was swellier than I gave it credit. So, initially my tears come from sheer shock and a reaction to having my world view massively challenged. As the shock subsides (and no I’m definitely not in ‘get on with it’ mode yet) it is leaving me feeling more than a little empty, which hurts. I thought we were all on the same team 🙁
  2. Grief – right now a large volume of my tears are at the loss of what I held dear to my heart about Britishness. That it’s a strange island onto whose shores a myriad of cultures have swept, a fleeting glance back at my family tree shows I am descendent from German, Flemish, Welsh and probably a bit of mediterranean at the very least. I know I am not alone, all you Britain Firsters could take a little look into your DNA before your profess you are pure breed and not a mongrel mix. In my heart, I believed that British people are warm hearted (despite our embarrassingly empirical history), overly apologetic, eccentric and sometimes odd (too much interbreeding back in the day), and in equal measure open minded and forward thinking. You have to love a country and peoples that are literally fortifiable with cups of tea (or so I thought).  I am proud that places like London (in particular) lead the way in evolving tolerant, open minded, multi-cultural societies where stuff works and people get on and oh yes, amazing things happen as a result. The fields of Glastonbury festival (where I found myself when the news broke) seem equally compassionate and celebratory about all that makes humans amazing: co-operation; collaboration; music; art; play; caring for nature; having caring natures and giving warm hugs amongst a thousand other good things. But it seems over those cups of tea, misinformation, narrow-mindedness and anti-progressive thoughts are shared and nurtured until they make a movement. I moved from soft floaty happiness to deep cutting grief as I deeply feel the loss of something important (real or imagined). Grief takes many forms so I think I’m in the processing part, able to articulate but still deeply deeply sad and a little bereft.
  3. Sadness (here comes the empathy bit) – I feel a compassionate sadness for the souls of the people that voted to leave if (as we are lead to believe) they did so because they felt so disaffected by European politics today, so angry that (in their eyes) global (or at least european) politics is detracting from local politics, from the purpose of their parish or the protection that they feel their neighbourhood offers. Too focused on their back yard that they can’t see the sea of need beyond. So affected by the impact they think immigration has on them that they voted “leave” in a muted shout to the immigrants (that simultaneously steal all their jobs whilst claiming all their benefits) to also “leave please”. So disturbed by the way the world is changing so rapidly that they can’t keep up. So angry that they are not being served by how things are. So convinced that Farage and co (or any politician) will make it all better for them. Kiss their wounds and turn the world to suit their view. Their frustration makes me feel sad. Surely this isn’t how it’s supposed to be for them or us? Politics is supposed to serve our basic needs, what do the leavers feel they aren’t getting? why are they so unhappy with the current set up that they essentially just volunteered to fling us all out of a plane in the vain hope that their parachute had been packed properly? Did anyone tell them that in life you have to make some compromises, that you get some good shit along with some shit shit. That any relationship (with your mum, your dog, your crazy second cousin, that Polish lass down the chip shop, the immigrant who runs the cab firm, that nice lady doctor that looks after your gran requires some give and some take.  That selfishness (and the greed that stems from it) will not ultimately serve you or those you love. That micro relationships are the same as macro ones. That the relationship between the UK and Europe has pros and cons and that it’s no different to the relationship with that old school mate who is a great laugh and there for you in a crisis but never pays for a round.

OK so now it’s time to own my shit.

  1. I am frustrated, I am frustrated I didn’t get my liberal, universal, peace and love and yes I know, middle class way. I claim sadness for the leave voters frustration but I feel it too. Do any of us know what modern day politics is supposed to achieve? Is there any clarity in politics any more? Is everyone just making shit up in a lazily convincing way and then blaming others when it doesn’t work out the way they guessed it might when they were blagging their way through PMQs? I am massively disappointed in politics, which I thought for many years could be the answer to many of the worlds ills (and in my ideal mind I guess I believe it could still play an important role but not with the way it’s currently run) but it’s just full of people with the same fucked up mentalities that the rest of us have, trying to figure shit out as they go along and not be too much of a selfish cunt. Unfortunately some of the very people attracted to politics appear to be attracted to it for self-serving narcissistic purposes. Oops maybe it’s not the right solution after all.  Maybe the whole system is broken (and this is evidence of that) and a more cyclic, yin, feminine, grey as opposed to black and white approach is needed. More discussion and debate rather than “I know it all, I am an expert, i will lead you to…. oh…. oops, I quit” I’m frustrated I don’t have the answers and that hurts.
  2. I’m scared (the honest bit), truth be told, and a lot of my tears come from the massive fear of what will happen next. Will all of Europe hate the UK? Will this lead to more division in the world? more hatred? I am scared that we will go through some terrible tidal wave of “us vs them” with arbitrary lines drawn around who’s in and who’s out. I know it’s just latent tribalism at work but I’m scared of whoever is holding the BIG spiky weapons.
  3. I’m angry at myself (here comes the big spiritual/philosophical bit)- that in some way I am those people, I am connected to the David Camerons, the Boris Johnsons, the Britain First guy that killed Jo Cox, the great grandma who is scared to go out of her front door anymore, the naive Niall Bevan supporter who believes that £100m/£350m will be ploughed back into our ailing NHS, the vote leave campaigner who wholeheartedly believes “local” is key, the confused one who wasn’t sure what it would all mean but took a punt on Boris n Nigel (sorry they bailed out on you when it got a bit tricky love). I am all those people with all their fears and anxieties in smaller and sometimes more manageable measure and I am responsible in some small way for their choices and I am definitely responsible for my reaction to their choices and that makes me angry (which obvs makes me cry some more)
  4. I am just (having poured everything into this article) beginning to feel a small glimmer of hope. I believe (eternal fucking optimist that I am) that sometimes painful things happen to clear some sticky stuff out of the collective psyche, that the universe ebbs and flows and that good shit and bad shit happens, and that this will all make sense sometime in the the future. I feel hopeful that perhaps now we feel a greater understanding of the connection between the decisions of government and the real lives of people. A greater responsibility to be informed, to challenge when we don’t and to be honest about what drives our choices. And in turn I feel that this could encourage politicians to begin facing up to the real responsibility of their career choices.
  5. I hope the discussions and online open public debates emerging these days will lead to a greater understanding of one anothers needs, fears, feelings and thoughts… I feel that we might learn how we are all responsible for one another and that we have to work together to find a way out of the mess for which we are collectively responsible.

With love


PS – I have stopped crying but unless you want a second flood, please god don’t let Gove or May get in.

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