One week has passed since the outcome of the EU referendum became known. Outside the sun is shining and I am glad that I waited with writing this blog…..waited for the dust to settle not in the country as a whole but especially in my own heart and soul. More than I ever thought they would, this result shook me to the core of my being.
Had I written immediately, my words may have lacked grace. Winnie the Pooh’s words below resonated with me too much last Friday, and so I may have have responded in the same way as Winnie the Pooh did to poor piglet-with resentment, anger, accusation and a lack of grace. Now, one week on, I realise that love, unity and friendship are not worth jeopardising because of politics…..no matter how momentous the decision that has been made. I hear that some friendships have been broken over this-and that is very sad.î
The future of Britain and harmony within Europe as a whole now depends on people looking beyond our differences and working together on a harmonious way forward. That cannot be done by harbouring anger or resentment towards those who have different views.
The majority of those who voted in the referendum elected to leave the union. I respect that. For this reason also (and because I am busy anyway) I am not joining the march in London today…..I said I was pro-EU when I voted to remain. Now the decision has been made for us to leave thr union, my feeling is that as individuals, communities and regions, we need to concentrate on supporting our leaders to make wise decisions about the future of this country, and on understanding how we as a nation have become as divided as we seemingly are. Yes, I personally regret not campaigning earlier, in the run-up to the referendum…….for voters under 18 to have their say, for the need for a greater voter turnout and majority before accepting any major changes to the status quo. But I didn’t, and crying for it now would simply make me a poor looser.
That is not to say that I have not been grieving. Half German and half British myself, I have always celebrated and benefited from the opportunities that the right to move and work within Europe have offered us all. I longed for my god-children, nieces and the next generation to enjoy that freedom, too, and the certainty of that may have diminished now.
Whenever I travel to the USA, I feel indignant at the signs in the immigration queues, which drive a rift between US citizens and the rest of the world, and I have always rejoiced that upon arriving in the UK, the exclusive categorisation was less narrow and at least included other European nations.Who knows-perhaps this will not change but it certainly seems more likely now than it has been before.
And then, of course, we may have harmed the rest of the EU and all that this union stood for, and I feel a strange sense of guilt about the turmoil which Britain has created not only for itself but also for other countries. The union was not perfect-far from it-but I do believe that working for change from within may have generated positive results eventually, if only we had persevered.
That said, the main source of my grief is what both the process and the aftermath of this referendum has revealed about the divided state of this country and about the values in which Britain always used to pride itself: the ability to strike a balance between national self-interest on the one hand and our responsibility towards other countries on the other-it seems the former contributed to our collective decision way more than the latter; our ability to celebrate rather than fear diversity-while not all those who voted leave are anti-immigration, the “leave” campaign was certainly tainted by exclusionary under-tones which should have been challenged more assertively (especially Nigel Farage’s final poster!); our commitment to protect and help minorities-this has also not proven strong in our handling of the refugee crisis in Europe and in the number of refugees which we as a country have agreed to welcome here; and the integrity of our politicians: yes, democracy has spoken-but this referendum has been marked by unprecedented lies and unnecessary scare-mongering on the part of all those involved in campaigning.That hurts, as does the sense that there is such discord, anger and division in a nation which has stood united in the past, on so many occasions.
Only God can bring healing, restore our values and help us to move forward harmoniously. Who knows, perhaps this time of turmoil is precisely what He needs to restore what seems lost, perhaps even to build back better? I trust in Him and so I now choose to look ahead and leave aside differences. I personally do not care if you are Winnie the Pooh, piglet, tigger or Kanga–I have now got over the “honey stuffing phase” and am ready to take the hand of any animal in 100 acre wood, walk beside you and help work towards a bright future. With God’s grace, we will all manage to play our part in re-building what currently seems uncertain, crushed or even lost.