So…on Thursday evening I voted to remain in the EU.
When I woke up on Friday morning, my Facebook feed had become an online venting forum. An unprecedented amount of people talking about one subject: #Brexit.
Throughout the morning, people began to advise people to stop posting how they were feeling and that it’d be for the best to just accept the decision and get on with it…
…this was followed by the final wave of those saying you can’t tell people to stop saying how they’re feeling if they’re feeling it. You follow? I for one needed a digital detox and avoided Facebook for the remainder of the day.
I can’t resist pointing out that all of those people were doing the exact same thing as one another. Reacting how they best saw fit and expecting others to do the same. It could also be argued that none of these approaches were particularly constructive. Finger-pointing doesn’t breed allies and instead encourages cyclical dialogues with like-minded individuals.
People were shocked, disappointed and angry. Myself included. I carried a sadness and heaviness around all day. Admittedly, even more so the second day when the reality settled in more. And that’s ok.
But, we openly pride ourselves on our democracy, freedom of speech, the right to vote and that’s what happened. People voted. A decision was made. For most, it came as a shock. On both sides.
And voting to leave the EU does not make you an Immigrant-hating, Nigel Farage-loving racist xenophobe. People I know personally voted leave on deeply considered, moral grounds.
I’m sure some may argue that even given these motivations it was an ill-advised choice. But isn’t that the concerning thing? We, the general public were handed this decision as our responsibility. I would have much preferred experts to make these decisions for us. I don’t believe we’re all capable of making such monumental choices and also don’t think we should be judged by one another because we’re not.
Many vote leavers are now having #Bregret as the reality of our nation’s future has sunk in. The future is unpredictable, and I have no doubt uncertainty and risk would loom with either outcome. Even today I’ve heard so many contradictory promises and projections.
The notion of #BetterTogether is undoubtedly much more of a challenge to embrace when the nation feels so divided. Are we all hanging around with those holding the same views? Patting each other on the back as the superior and better half of the country? Is it only ok to hold democratic votes if people vote the same as us?
Was there an objective right or wrong way to vote in this referendum? If there was, will we keep having referendum after referendum until we get the ‘right’ result. And if there wasn’t, then surely either vote is equally valid. And if this is the case, then we need to start listening to people and be ready to have mature, open discussions with people who think differently as well as alike.
The time for venting has come. And I very much hope it’s gone. We can each decide whether we allow this divisive campaign to continue to have a fracturing influence on our relationships, friendships and our perceptions of those around us. Let’s not cultivate an ‘us and them’ mentality.
Many Scots who resonated with the message of #BetterTogether are now hoping to gain independence, and many Londoners are proclaiming their wish to divorce themselves from the rest of the country. This is not what we need. We are the UNITED Kingdom and we need to resolve to act as such.
Jo Cox’s words (below) seem to take on more significance now than before.
We have to be intentional in respecting those we live and work alongside, and learn how to accept the decision that was made, especially if we would have expected the vote to have been uncontested if it went the other way.
The country will no doubt now enter a time of reflection and recovery. There are very few things we get passionate about as a nation, and this amount of conviction could be channeled into something positive.
Let’s vote to be champions of peace, respect and hope for the future. Here’s to Britain being great.