I have spent today thinking about the EU. I cried on the way to work over the EU. I didn’t even realise I cared so much about the EU.
But the old adage “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” could’ve been my Thought of the Day today.
I didn’t know anything about the EU. I still don’t profess to be an expert. But I didn’t want to trust the propaganda of either campaign and I didn’t want to base my decision on TV debates between politicians who don’t have a brilliant track record of transparency and honesty in such debates.
So I researched. I researched the history and the legislation and trade agreements. I researched case studies of non EU countries and compared them to the UK. I researched the things which would directly and immediately affect me and my family.
And I chose to Remain.
And so did a lot of other people. But a few (hundred thousand) more voted to Leave. So we leave.
It is not an ideal decision for me. I personally don’t think the general public has the complex understanding of the EU necessary to make such an historically and politically monumental decision. But the government did.
And, as I said, it’s not an ideal decision for me. But that doesn’t make it wrong. It doesn’t make everyone who voted to leave an ignorant moron.
But Facebook disagrees.
We’d already had a month and more of links to articles and speeches in support of Remain and Leave. Generally people were passionate. Some to the point of rudeness. Some beyond that point. The country was divided to the max.
Or so we thought.
This morning we woke up to the news that we would leave the EU. At first people were ‘shocked’ and ‘upset’ and ‘saddened’.
And then it got a bit worse.
People became ‘ashamed’ and ‘disgusted’ by the ‘xenophobic’, ‘racist’ people who voted to leave based on ‘intolerance’ and ‘hatred’.
I’ve read all these words today. Many times on many threads. Facebook has been fed hatred all day and has duly spewed it to the world. I have friends and family who voted to Leave. I am not ashamed of them. I am not disgusted by them.
I have two colleagues at work who I also consider good friends. They both voted Leave. Passionately. We are all teachers in a school where only around 25% of children are White British. If they are racist, intolerant, xenophobic people then they are hiding it in such a way that I expect to see them nominated in next year’s Oscars.
The irony of many Remain supporters calling Leave voters ‘intolerant’, ‘judgemental’ and ‘prejudiced’ is alarming when they are displaying those exact qualities themselves. They are proving themselves intolerant of anyone who has a different viewpoint; anyone who makes a different decision. They are making snap judgements about these people; judgements that these people are filled with hatred and that they make decisions fuelled by racism.
Is it really that hard to understand that people make different decisions to our own? Is it hard to comprehend that people make choices based on their own life experiences and not those of a stranger on the Internet?
Making the decision was only the beginning of the divide. But it doesn’t have to be.
We can be bitter. Or we can be better.
We can unite and ride out the wave of instability which may ultimately prove to be a positive means to a better end.
If David Cameron can be gracious in defeat, I think we should all be able to manage it.
The same backlash happened after the last general election where the Conservative voters were humble in their victory and the Labour voters became bitter, name-calling keyboard warriors. Why can’t we accept defeat without attacking the victors?
This referendum united the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. That is an amazing political achievement. But we can’t see the positives.
We can be upset and disappointed and angry. We can tell people how we feel. But we can’t call people the c word because they want to leave the EU.
Now is not the time to divide and conquer. Now is the time to unite for stronger. Unlike the referendum, there’s only one real option here. We are leaving. We can throw our toys out of the pram and call Nigel Farage names (he may have gone a little over the top with the whole ‘Independence Day’ thing!) but we have to move forward.
And we have to move forward respecting each other. United as one diversely, great nation.
Share this post or follow me: