Friday, June 24, 2016
For now, there won't be any talk of anything else. I'm sorry if this wasn't what you were expecting. I'll be back with regular content soon.
Today, my country, my home, the place where I have the right to a voice I am so grateful for, made a potentially fracturing decision. It was painfully close - the kind of difference of opinion that makes you wonder if the relationship you have with this, the one you love, the place you come from, your home - if that relationship is right for you anymore. It is divisive. It is painful. We went out to have our say, and whilst 51.9% of us feel potentially empowered, vindicated and relief, 48.1% feel fear. Distress. Shame. Discomfort. Uncertainty and perhaps worst of all, disillusioned. We feel we have lost our identity, rather than 'claimed it back' from some invisible keep.
I was one of the 48.1%. I woke and felt the shock. The immediate grief and fear. The outrage. The impending sense of doom. I spent all day feeling like I was in the fallout of something catastrophic, but I couldn't see or hear it, just feel the devastating sense of foreboding in the air. I watched the news with my mouth open, I text my family and friends, I joined my shocked peers on social media, I flew off the handle a little. I made some snap judgements and spoke out of turn.
I thought emotionally about what it meant to me to belong to a country which didn't want to be part of Europe. How it spoke to my character not to be considered European. How some unfortunate idealisms which I abhor had become tangled up in one side of this campaign, and that was the side that won.
I considered growing up an expat child, being abroad for 18 years of my life, and how my identity was tied up in migration. How it could be argued that I belonged more to another country than my home country. Left a bitter taste in my own mouth as I admitted to myself that sometimes this made me consider myself more 'worldly wise' than my neighbours.
I thought about my Jordanian father and my English mother meeting in college in Southend, and how I am a product, directly, of open-mindedness, immigration, inclusiveness. Did this change today?
Did the world change today?
Undeniably, yes. I could spout off hundreds of facts I've read over today, or sign another petition in the hopes of reversing what is done, or insult some other people I don't mean to out of hurt, fear, pride, whatever. The truth of the matter is - I am passionate. Myself and 33 million other people in my home country are passionate. Democracy was called upon and it answered, for better or worse. None of us truly know at this point. Scare-mongering, and fracturing, and incensed words won't bring back these past 24 hours or rewrite what is written. We are a country made of more than one opinion. We are a country made of more than one decision.
What I know is that in order to survive, we have to look forward, together, in one direction. We have to mend. We have to stay passionate. We have to keep arguing, and fighting like hell for what we believe in, and standing our ground. We have to build. We have to choose leaders that are strong enough to lead us. We have to remember that we have #MoreInCommon than what sets us apart. We are here, on this tiny island, together, and we must make this work together.
If we're going to leave, let us do it with grace - let us establish ourselves as a forward-thinking, progressionist, inclusive and fair nation. Let us set an example to inspire and bring positivity to our neighbours. Let us nurture our relationships and treat our fellow Europeans as part of a community still. If we cannot be better together, then let's not just make a case for being apart.