Today, I grieve

24 Jun


The referendum is over, and we have chosen by the slimmest of margins to stroll down one leg of the bifurcated trousers of time. We will never know how things would have worked out if we had stayed in the European Union – but we’re definitely going to find out what happens now we’ve chosen to leave. My newsfeed is full of posts from people saying “right, the decision is made, let’s pull together and step into the future”. Curiously, these mostly seem to be from those who backed the winning horse, who threw their lot in with those who would vote ‘Leave’. And that’s OK.

Step into the future we must. Hopefully with love, with compassion, with honour, with integrity. Hopefully with a sense of our place in history and our place in the world. And, yes, with a sense of hope and of possibility – to make out of this the best possible world for us, for our children, and for humanity.

But for me, and for those of us who voted to remain, it is not yet time to look to the future. It is not yet “time for us to stop being afraid of what could go wrong, and start being positive about what could go right”. There will be time enough for that.

This is serious stuff. Consider: if we had chosen to remain, then those who voted ‘leave’ would have had to mourn a world that could have been – a whole raft of possibilities that never got born. But for us, we have to say goodbye to a world that we have been nurturing for forty years. This is a world we have been proud to be part of, and now it is to be torn away from us, to be replaced with something different. And I grieve that passing.

For me I have to look at the possibility of my son soon living in a different country – not because he moved, but because Scotland will choose to have a second referendum and this time they WILL leave the UK to be part of Europe. I have to face the possibility that my other son might choose to seek his fortune in a land that holds his personal values more dearly than this one. Both of these men consider themselves human first and foremost. And, selfish man that I am, I fear those future possibilities. And today, I am sad.

I have friends who face uncertainty in relationships that flourished when movement across Europe was easier. I have friends who have to deal with business uncertainty and the possibility of their business failing – of losing their livelihood and of an uncertain future.

I fear that the country has fallen into the hands of those who value division. As a friend of mine said “All my life I have striven for inclusivity. To welcome, to include, to share with, to enjoy the diversity, to learn from and to be part of one race – the human race. Who are these people who feel that division, hatred, spite and greed is the way forward??”

Our children deserve unity and peace, the world my father fought for. The world I believe we can have. And yet today it seems we have taken a step backwards from that inclusivity, from that sense of a united family of humanity. Perhaps it will arise in a different form. I can only hope. And pray.

And we seem to have betrayed our children. It seems that as a nation we have stood in the present, looked back at the past, and decided to go backwards – to try and go back to a world that no longer exists. Yet in this referendum our children have stood in the present, have looked at the future and wanted to go forward into a brave new world of inclusivity and co-operation. And we have chosen not to allow them that.

All of my beliefs about the future, about how we are better off part of the European Union, about the unity of man, all my dreams of a better and kinder place – those dreams and beliefs have not disappeared because of the vote. Yet today I mourn their passing.

There will be time enough to build something together. There will be time to look to the future with hope, with courage, with honour and with integrity. We are all in this together, and we will see what the future brings.

But today, I grieve.


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