Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock all day, by now you will have heard the news that the United Kingdom, specifically England and Wales, has voted by a narrow margin to leave the European Union. For those in the Leave campaign, today is a day of celebration, but for those of us in the Remain camp, it is a day of fear, confusion, resentment, and simmering anger. Here are five things Bremainers can take away from our favourite geeky passions to help process this result and what is to come.
1. Add to the Good
“The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and… bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things or make them unimportant. And we definitely added to his pile of good things.” – Doctor Who
There’s an awful lot of hatred spilling out on the internet today and if you’re in the UK it may well be filing your offline life too. Try not to add to it. There are terrible things being said on both sides of the Brexit debate—I know, I’ve been at the receiving end of some of it myself—but adding to the mud-slinging won’t help anyone, it only adds to the world’s collective pile of bad things and I think we can all agree that that pile is big enough already.
If you feel up to it, share something funny/cool/simply “nice” – a picture of your cat snoozing in the sun or that silly thing your kid said – we could all use it on our social media feeds today to break up the endless politics. Otherwise keep it civil and make use of your mute and block buttons where needed. Civilised discussion is a great thing at this time; we’re clearly a divided nation and conversation across that chasm is the only thing that will fix the problem in the long run, but hurtful comments and snide remarks will only widen it.
2. Show Your True Colors
“The truth is out there, but so are lies.” – The X-Files
Today the rest of the world is watching us in the UK, and they’re seeing the faces of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson along with a lot of discussion of right-wing nationalism. If that doesn’t represent you, then show the world the true face of your United Kingdom. Be kind. Don’t share hateful memes. Tell the world about YOUR Great Britain. Post on social media to tell your foreign friends about your community. Show them what Britain really looks like. We’re diverse. We’re welcoming. We’re slightly standoffish and oddly obsessed with queueing. We’re really, really, really funny!
Don’t let the world take away an image of modern day fascism when they think of us. It’s hard for Remainers to feel positive today, but we live in a country filled with history, beauty, and a lot of wonderful people. That’s what I want the world to think of when it thinks of my country and that’s the image I’m going to try and portray to the rest of the world. That doesn’t mean you should stop sharing the truth. This isn’t the time to gloss over reality either and there are many well-written articles, quotes, and think pieces being produced that are worthy of being shared and discussed.
There is more to our nation than the hateful minority who think they speak for us and whose faces are dominating headlines. Together, we can ensure that the world sees us as more.
3. Stand Together
“Villains who twirl their moustaches are easy to spot. Those who clothe themselves in good deeds are well camouflaged… waiting for the right climate in which to flourish, spreading fear in the name of righteousness.” – Star Trek
“If you stand for nothing, Burr, what’ll you fall for?” – Hamilton
Brexit won the vote on a narrow margin fuelled by fear, and such a close result has only added to the “us vs them” feeling that has been brewing here for many years. Leave ran their campaign on the back of “patriotism” that was, sadly, often a thin veneer to cover those fears. Fear of immigration. Fear of unemployment. Fear of another financial crash. Over the years we’ve constantly heard phrases such as “Broken Britain” and it’s this mentality that has allowed the right wing ideologies of Britain First and UKIP to thrive. If we want to end this, we need to do more than sitting behind our computers sharing memes. Just like the Democrats took to the floor in protest against the US’s lack of effort on gun reform this week, so we need to work together to destroy this rhetoric that we are a nation that no longer cares.
Today our country is filled with people who are afraid of losing their livelihoods, of having their families torn apart, of having already horrendous financial situations worsened. Show your community that you care. If you have the time to volunteer somewhere, then please consider doing so. If you don’t then there are millions of other ways to pitch in. Attend a parish council meeting, take your kids along to the village fair and buy a cake from the mum who runs a small business out of her kitchen, say hi to your neighbours. Will that solve our problems? Of course it won’t. But if every single voter knew they were a member of a caring community, those fears that are allowing our country to be torn in two would have fewer places to hide.
4. Don’t Give Up
“May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.” – Firefly
“You’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” – Star Wars
Accepting that Brexit won the referendum does not mean that you have to admit you were wrong in your opinions. We will never know what a Bremain result this morning would have looked like—we can only speculate—but your opinion on the future of our country is as valid today as it was when you cast your vote. There are months and years of confusion ahead of us and we have no idea what’s coming – that’s what makes this so scary. Screaming from the rooftops about the unfairness of it all is unlikely to do much to help, but with the possibility of renegotiations, additional referendums, and national divisions ahead of us, stay true to your opinions and don’t let anyone bully you into believing you were wrong.
Conversely, accepting that our opinions are fallible is important for our own growth. If we all refuse to hear opposing viewpoints then we stagnate. Hearing new perspectives and gathering new evidence can change even our most deeply held beliefs, and when that happens, it’s not a sign of weakness to change your perspective.
5. Put Away Your Fear
Today is a day of uncertainty. None of us know what even the next few hours will bring, let alone the coming months and years. You might very well be afraid. I know I am. In that knowledge, I leave you with these words from Welcome to Night Vale: The Librarian, in the hopes that we can all find some peace and begin to move forwards together.
“Sometimes we need to check out our fear, and read it, and study it, and peruse it closely, but at a certain point return it to its proper shelf and experience something else.
Contentment. Worry. Calm. Hunger. Spinal parasites. And a great deal of love, of every kind.
So put that fear in a place where you can find it when you need it, but don’t carry it with you! Don’t carry it with you.”