We can destroy ourselves by cynicism and disillusion, just as effectively as by bombs.
I’ve woken this morning to the news I didn’t want to hear- we have decided to leave the EU. This makes me incredibly sad, and judging by my facebook newsfeed there is an awful lot of hurt, disappointment, anger and concern about what this means. Given the opinion polls suggest that the youngest generations are those that primarily wanted to remain (and many of my friends are in London), it is unsurprising that I can name only 2 people who I know voted Leave amongst my friendship group.
However, this is how democracy works (and let us not forget that we are often deeply suspicious of countries that don’t do democracy like we think it should be done). So now I have a choice: I could sit back, and watch as a decision I disagreed with, but the majority wanted, starts to take effect. Basically, I could sulk and refuse to play because we are not playing the game that I wanted to play. I could hope it fails because then I can say ‘I told you so’.
Or, I can accept that this is the decision the country has made, the country I am still a citizen of, and desperately want to be proud to belong to. I can accept it, and fight to make it work the best it can for all citizens.
It is indeed a new day for Britain, and we have made a clear statement that we want to go in a new direction. Well let’s make that the best direction it possibly can be. Whether we voted Leave or Remain, we all will live with the result. So I want to say that I want to make Britain the best place it can be. I know those who voted Leave also want to make Britain better, and while I might have different ideas about what ‘better’ looks like, perhaps we can commit to putting the divisive nature of the campaigns behind us, and find ways to walk forward together.
I am probably being woefully idealistic, but I’d rather hold up the highest standard and attempt to reach it (and fail), than settle for less. So this is what I will try to do moving forward (you will notice it is entirely unmanageable and unachievable on my own- please join me).
- I will try to remember that many who voted differently to me are rational, loving, generous and equally idealistic people. Just because their logic differs from mine as to how to go about achieving a better world, doesn’t mean I should dismiss it, but I must listen to concerns and ideas on all sides.
- If in a few years’ time it has all gone horribly wrong, I will not blame those who voted Leave and thus cause more division.
- I will fight misinformation
- I will hold politicians and the media to the highest standards of honesty and integrity. I will encourage them when they are doing well, and refuse to play the game of letting personal attacks sway my political opinion.
- I will fight for justice for all, not just those who are white, middle-class and British. I will fight to see the UK become a world-leading example on tackling head on issues such as climate change, environmental damage, and wealth inequality. I will encourage us as a society to do this by getting our own house in order before lecturing others, but also by walking the journey alongside other countries.
- I will remain compassionate, generous and hospitable to those who are different from us, whether that’s differences in class, sexuality, race, faith etc and whether from inside our borders or not, and I will encourage those around me to do the same.
My faith drives a great deal of this, and while the above list is hugely optimistic, and probably entirely unrealistic, I believe in a God that has given us agency to affect change (both positive and negative), who can perform miracles (and that includes in changing complex structures) and who is the source of love. When I am feeling empty of love or compassion I can ask the God who freely provides to refill me.
I am sincere in my desire to want to see our country and our world become a better place. The sharp reality of that is that, whether inside the EU or not, I am in control primarily of my own attitude and behaviour, and that is where I must start with creating a better world.