Seems to be where we’re heading. I do try, really I do, to retain some optimism, some faith and some hope. I think I’m just weary now, of hoping that some coherent opposition will emerge, hoping for evidence of a truly significant shift in public opinion (here and in the US), hoping that the bad guys won’t win this time.
That doesn’t mean I’ve given up – I’m at a low ebb for personal reasons, and that’s sapped my capacity to muster up some positive thoughts.
(The other thing, of course, that militates against my traditional end-of-year musings on the state of the world, is that by the time I have drafted anything events will have moved on, for better or (more likely) for worse, and I’ll have been left behind by them.)
To paraphrase Brando in The Wild One: “What are you despairing about?” “What you got?”
Brexit (obvs) – is it even going to happen? I desperately want it not to happen but so much damage and division has already been created that it isn’t a straightforwardly comforting thought that there might yet be a way that we can Remain.
If it does happen, there will be, I believe, a very great deal more long term damage, and much more profound division. It’s not the consequences for me personally that concern me, it’s about the consequences for all of us. But most particularly for European citizens in the UK, for anyone ‘foreign’ in the UK, for my kids’ generation whose opportunities will be so curtailed, for the poorest who will be hardest hit by recession and tightened austerity, for the sick who will suffer as the NHS runs out of resources.
I am fearful, and I’m sad. I recently travelled up the Danube on a cruise ship – our hotel manager and tour managers were from Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary respectively, our tour guides were from Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, Bratislava. All of them mentioned Brexit, and the tone was one of bafflement, of regret, of hurt (‘You don’t want us any more’).
I’m also angry because this whole mess could have been so easily avoided. If the referendum had been clearly and publicly stated to be advisory (as it legally was), if under-18s had been enfranchised (as in the Scottish independence referendum), if EU citizens resident in this country and UK citizens long-term resident in Europe had been able to vote, then the outcome might well have been what the majority of MPs and Cabinet members hoped it would be. If, when the result was known, the powers that were had said, ‘OK, we weren’t expecting this and we haven’t exactly planned for it, but now we know that is the view, we will put together a cross-party team of the very best minds we have (yes, ‘experts’), and work out how we can do this without damaging the country. If we conclude there is no way, we will revisit the outcome, having made our findings known to Parliament and to the nation’… But that would have taken courage and integrity, qualities in woefully short supply.
Instead, those tasked with negotiating our exit have demonstrated no understanding of the issues, no aptitude for negotiation. They’ve faffed and fannied about for two and a half years. They’ve been smug and arrogant and dishonest. The only consistent thing has been the way in which everyone is to blame other than them, the EU, the ‘unapologetic Remoaners’, the business community, everyone. And at this late stage, our hapless and hopeless PM is reduced to desperate pleading with EU leaders, and – because she really can’t help herself – pronouncing even in those last ditch meetings, as if it means anything at all, that ‘Brexit is Brexit’.
That’s just us. But wherever we look we see the same, or worse, sometimes much, much worse. Where do we look for comfort and hope?
As always in dark times there are people striving to bring light. As always when the haters are out in force there are people speaking truth and love. As always when there’s mess there are people who will move heaven and earth to clean it up. The light-bringers, the truth-sayers, the open-hearted, the problem solvers may not hold power but we have to hope they have influence, that their voices will be heard, in all the parts of the world where they’re most needed.
It’s been a while since I posted anything here at all, and I’d really rather that I could have broken the silence with something stronger, something more uplifting and positive. But that’s all I’ve got, folks, right now.
“Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.”
― E.B. White