On Thursday the nation I call my own voted to leave the EU. I was not impressed. I voted to remain and was a strong believer that the case to Vote Leave was weak and misguided. Waking up on Friday morning to the news I felt mildly depressed all day, not just at the vote but also the consequences that followed.
A lot can change in a day…
While I am not a fan of David Cameron, and I completely understand, respect and agree with his decision to step down considering the result, it feels in light of the motivation for his resignation, who will follow seems likely to be far worse. On top of this the plummeting pound means that we are instantly worse off, and while this is unlikely to last forever, it happening at all is bad and the recovery is likely to be long and protracted.
The knock on consequence of this will be that people will lose their jobs and the price of essentials will increase. The horrible irony appears to be that the very people who voted Leave in their droves are likely to be the same people who will feel the aftereffects of this decision on their daily lives most acutely. Leave supporters would counter that this is scaremongering and not inevitable, and perhaps they are right. But the reality that the world is now smaller than it has ever been and the concept of nationhood and identity now so muddy, that I can only feel the potential that leave campaigners now believe is available is only really present in their own heads. That is unless every other country in the world suddenly turns around and says ‘oh yes United Kingdom, whatever you say, we are not worthy’. Personally, I am not sure I see exactly how much the rest of the world has to lose by trading with us a bit less, or even actually more but following their rules because they hold the stronger position.
Perhaps the most troubling consequence of the aftermath of the vote is the polarised nature of the debate. We have seen the country divide, with both sides guilty of verbal misdemeanours. We all know that different opinions exist, and the swirling around of such differences are what push society forward (at least in my idealistic brain). But we have seen quite starkly how people (of both sides) so often resort to verbally throwing their toys out of the pram, resulting in aggressive, emotive and downright unethical communication.
While psychologically this is understandabe, we really must all try to measure our communication as balanced and peacefully as possible for it to carry the effectiveness we all crave. Easier said than done I know. But while the divide has revealed the true feelings of many people, and therefore shaken a few out of their ignorant slumber, it also offers a great opportunity. The referendum has at least exposed our differences and forced us to pay closer attention to views we might usually like to try and ignore.
Time to move on
But overall while I disagree with the result, I am not a bad loser (I think), and accept we need to move on and deal with this situation the best we can, given the environment within which it has left us. We need to take the opportunity to show that if we can conceive of a better way, that this may lay the foundation for a new EU type organisation that more of the general public are knowledgeable enough about to accept and endorse. It might be idealistic thinking but when things don’t go your way you need to accept, assimilate and adapt, while staying true to the inclusive global foundation that we are all brothers and sisters of the same planet. National boundaries, and also nations themselves, are historical and cultural artefacts, that while emerging organically and therefore serving a purpose, may not always be required in the future.
Independence can only take us so far
The more we realise that the only difference between each of us is on an individual level, and that we all agree in individual rights, we have to see that solidarity with other people means accepting membership of organisations such as the EU (and other multilateral organisations), because accepting participation in the global debate requires compromise and facilitates influence. While independence is appealing and valuable as a concept, it can also result in loneliness through isolation, and inward more self-focused thinking, as one is totally fixated on one’s own interests and not those of any other group of people sharing this earth to which we have all equally been given (at least aside when doing so aids one’s own goals).
The world is now far smaller than it has ever been, and this reality is only rising as migration increases. While leaving might present the illusion of control and power, in effect it provides uncertainty of levels of control and power. Of course this uncertainty can lead a number of different ways. That it is why it is now more important than ever that we try and communicate and listen to those who share different views to ourselves, and attempt to understand the root of their motivations as much as possible in order to facilitate affective positive change.