Today… One day I will look back and see that lived I through history. Although this might sound strange, history never looks like history when you are living it. Although I have tried to keep this platform neutral , today I felt, to put it mildly, numb, then worried, then angry and numb once more.
Today I woke up like any other day, but it wasn’t like any other day. Anxiously, I checked the news but somehow I already knew what the result would be. I could sense the disturbance in the force. Was it the result I would have hoped for? No.
This campaign had been a rollercoaster. In the run up I had continually tried to research and reason the arguments on both sides, understanding the gravity of either on our futures. I had read the newspapers, scrutinised the statistics, the pie charts the critics, the academics, the experts, heard the sound bites and witnessed the impassioned Facebook posts and pleas and memes.
I tried to claw back to my memories of studying EU Law to once more make sense of that legislative maze. To weigh it up, to see if it could once again inform my reasons. Having lived in London for the last three years though, I knew instinctively what my answer would be. I would vote to remain. Not only because I was young and that any decision to leave would be an uncertain gamble for my future. Not only because I had studied the subject and seen the benefits it brought. Not only because a vote to remain would still offer the chance of reform and if needed, a decision to leave in the future once a certain plan had been put in place or suggested. Not only because I was too “blinded” by the institution to see that we had “let go of our control” as someone suggested. Living in London, and judging by the map of results, it seems, I was in a bubble.
Living in London has not only brought fantastic experiences. But I had grown accustomed to different. Different people, different ethnicities, different religions, different views, different languages, different life experiences and mindsets. I had been in close contact with different. Different hadn’t made me any worse off, if anything it had matured me as a person. I had no morbid fixation on different because there, different was normal because I was surrounded by it.
A vote to leave would have been a denial of myself, of these experiences, of the people that I had met and of my identity as a former immigrant ‘who came here to steal jobs and claim benefits as a young child who had somehow weasled herself into British Citizenship. Unfortunately, in a campaign that grew to be vitriolic and xenophobic as it hinged on Schrödinger’s immigrant- one who steals your jobs whilst simultaneously claiming your benefits- I became disheartened.
I became disheartened as unions were broken amongst family members and friends, and colleagues and commentators and countries, as ideologies and rhetoric became increasingly divided. I was horrified and numbed when it resulted in a death and Farage still had the balls to say this was a victory won without a single bullet being shot (also is he suggesting he would have resorted to violence?). I became disheartened as I realised just how many people saw me as other by virtue of a geographical happenstance in my birth and my physical appearance.
But amongst all that I still have hope. Yes #Bremain might have ultimately lost in this battle, but then it is up to us to not give up.
We have seen the results of what happens when we begin to become complacent with holding those who govern us to account.
We have seen the results of what happens when we are complacent in educating each other and conversing with each other, to prevent such division.
We have seen what happens when we do not speak ‘because it doesn’t concern us’ in this instance.
We have seen the consequences of abstaining when we don’t understand something rather than researching and asking, or demanding the answers to the questions we have as an electorate.
We have seen what happens when we don’t call out ignorance and harmful ideologies as threatening.
As a people, as individuals, whether we voted to remain or leave, we now all have a duty to participate and shape this uncertainty. We cannot give up now. We cannot just leave it because it is done now. We cannot remain complacent and uninterested.
We must all fight to build something cooperatively in the ruins that have been left, we must all participate in shaping what is coming. It is no use to complain and spectate. Sign petitions, demand , debate, converse, cooperate. We each have a responsibility to take action either way because it not only affects us, the world, but future generations to come.
Above all else we must foster tolerance and an understanding of each other. Different is what makes me, and if there is one thing I have learnt during my three years of studying in such a multicultural city, different isn’t always dangerous, but through different something beautiful can be built and in that hope and love can be found.