WAILING OVER BREXIT…. O WOE!
If you are a British citizen and / resident of UK you might be interested in signing this petition which already has over 4 million signatures https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/131215
So Independence Day came and went and no wise cracks from me this year about the US making regrettable decisions in the past. The decision to leave Europe that occurred on the other side of the pond, June 24th, was so massive that it felt like I was dealing with a major death in the collective family of cooperation and possibility.
First delusion arrived. Particularly egoistic delusion, no this couldn’t possibly be, I have been a European for 40 years, you can’t take that thread of connection away from me, even though I wasn’t allowed to vote in this particular situation as I have lived out of the country for over 15 years. I pay my National Insurance religiously and any other tarriffs/taxes the old countree obliges me to….. No this cannot be…
And then tremendous rage and anger took over. Not so much for “poor little me” and my dwindling pounds, not that there are so many of them! But for the youth who voted overwhelmingly to stay in, and the teens who went hyper on twitter, enraged that those who would not live to see the consequence of their decisions had voted them out of easy access to Europe, the possibility to live and work all over these amazing countries. So many of them were also enraged because of what this means to the environment. The UK has not been the greatest guardian of the planet in recent years and the EU has channelled more energy, research and restrictions to protect and keep life existing on the planet. It is much more of a force to mitigate climate change than any single country can be. The young are much more aware of this than the old-timers who appeared – even the most educated – to be coralled into defiance of the status quo but without sensing the devastating consequences of the planetary status quo, this decision could have. According to the Guardian, £1billion came from the EU annually for scientific research and it also sent UK laboratories and universities some of the most brilliant minds in the world.
Very few folks understand how much the EU also supports the arts and education - even giving grants for some of our friends to write books about Yoga research! I have already heard of several dynamic arts organisations that may not survive the next few years because of what this could mean to cultural budgets and to the European participation in these organisations. One can understand why London wants to separate from Britain to maintain the diversity and buzz on which it thrives.
After the rage and anger, which was a strange surrealistic experience and could only be understood or even acknowledged by lamenting over the phone with family and fellow Brits, then sadness poured in. Profound sadness for the message of xenophobia that this sends all over the world. For those whose skin color or accent is going to make them the target of attack and suspicion for years to come. It’s already started – racial attacks were up by 57% within a few days of the vote. If there is one glimmer in the overwhelmingly sorrowful picture and confusion, is that it may shake us out of our relative complacency in this country regarding the bigotry and hatred being energised by the Trump campaign. Of course, Trump didn’t know what the word Brexit meant a few weeks before the referendum is now claiming it as a victory for all those who want to reclaim the former glory of their country. Which former glory? Slavery, colonialism, child labor….. It could be a very close call this November.
From outside a cafe....
So how did this happen? Emotionalism? The pundits can’t agree and future social scientists are going to have a field day with this tragic event. It appears that NO is very easy to say and YES, but lets fix it….much harder. This has been echoed by Merkel and several European politicians who must be heartily sick of the shenanigans in the UK. As in this country, it appears that if you have been marginalised economically over the last few decades by the rise of the 1% and the negative impacts of globalisation, if you are white and can easily be stirred by blaming “the other” rather than the more complex investigation necessary into systemic power and eco coruption, and if you are subject to the media onslaught by the slogans of the tabloid press, then when given a choice to vote, it is clearly a NO. Rupert Murdoch appears to own England and has been waging a campaign against the EU and the National Health Service for years. It’s worked!
Stupidity? Many people on the NO side were amazed that the vote to leave won. Many saw it as a protest vote for so many things that need attention in the country, like limited resources, long lines for services, competition for certain jobs because of immigration. How did they think this was going to be the cure-all for these issues? A young Welsh man from a town that voted overwhelmingly to leave said “What has the EU ever done for us?” Wales is not only a net EU beneficiary, EU capital funding has been an essential part of bringing business to the area he lives in, besides funding the training college, the leisure centre, the train station, football pitch…etc that he stands in front of as he makes this comment. But it wasn’t just the “young and dumb” and tabloid oriented that made this decision. In the higher echelons of institutions and government, seasoned professionals are now realising that they have voted themselves out of jobs as the finance and building industries begin to crumble.
The real stupidity was allowing this ever to become a referendum. There wasn’t that much interest in the whole issue not so long ago except from the radical right whose colleagues across Europe are now crowing with delight at the Brexit result. Complacency and opportunism lead to a very badly organised facile referendum. Why on earth let it be a 50/50 vote for something this momentous? Why in heaven wasn’t there a minimum number of electorate necessary for such a huge decision? See suggestions for the revote at the link above. If you are a Brit or if you are a resident of UK, you can sign this petition.
Desperation? I couldn’t help weeping when I listened to the implicit years of suffering in the voice of a 70 year old from an industrial area who said he normally voted Labor, but this time, he wanted to vote to protect his family and grandkids from what he saw was the EU’s fault. For the last 30 years, his own employment history indicates that it’s been extremely hard to maintain a living and a family in the flux and flow of global economics and the recent austerity measures so popular in conservative politics. His voice sounded so weary after many years on the dole or desperately trying to maintain his dignity and solvency at a time when the 1% blossoms and the rest are ignored.
The disconnect between the woman or man on the street and the politicians, the years of evolving post Thatcherite post Reagan economics….. the very real evidence of 1% oblivion to the state of the nation. This is what is truly sad and on some level, understandable that the rage, the oppression was levelled at those who kept telling them they needed to remain. Why would anyone listen to someone in Westminster who had secret bank accounts and only seemed interested in taking care of fellow plum-in-their mouth beings? The level of distrust in government and the lack of attention and understanding of the challenges of the many, indicates that we are moving into strange and truly uncharted waters in the future.
What next? Well I hope Nicola Sturgeon and Scotland can block the passage of legislation necessary. Personally I welcome a re-vote but know that could cause a great deal of upset on the Leave side. Right now, I like many others are wanting not a sit in, not a demo, but a Wail-In for the young, for the planet, for the better parts of the EU, for the rising xenophobia, for the next few months of endless Trump politics in the media….., for the time wasted and to be wasted on a truly divisive question.
If it all goes through, and article 50 is invoked, there will be years where every piece of EU legislation has to be fought over and either abandoned, revised or approved. A long and messy process, that will weary brains and resources, that could be used towards planetary care and creative collaborations.