Disclaimer: The following post is my personal opinion, and does not represent the wider community of Druids, Pagans etc.
I know I’ve been quiet lately, but I really didn’t want to write for a bit after the national disaster that was the EU referendum. There were just too many emotions, on both sides, to give me breathing space to think and put those thoughts into words.
I don’t like to write about politics on this blog, but this is such a huge decision, such a major geopolitical shift that I can’t ignore it and pretend nothing has changed. It has. The country I woke up in on Friday morning is not the country I went to sleep in on Thursday night, and it never will be again.
For what it’s worth, I voted to remain in the EU, because I feel that we are all stronger and better if we work together, across nations and cultures, on issues that affect us all. As an Irish citizen as well as a UK one, I am European.
I understand that the Leave camp won, by a small majority. And as much as the referendum is not legally binding, I know that the next government (whoever ends up leading it) are bound to put the so-called “will of the people” to effect.
But is it the will of the people? 51% of a 75% turnout is only 37% of the population, and even now Leave voters are starting to regret their decision.
In terms of demographics, 75% of young people voted Remain, making it clear that they see their future as part of Europe, as part of something greater than themselves.
There is a portion (by no means all) of the Leave voters that also genuinely scare me. Polls show that Leave voters are more likely to see Feminism, Social Liberalism, the Green Movement and the Internet (!) as social evils. Nationalistic and racialist messages to stop immigration and “take our country back” were prominent in the Leave campaign, an eerie echo of Trump’s “make America great again”.
Is it any wonder that racist attacks and hate-speech have risen over just the past few days? The Huffington Post has collected some shocking examples of post-referendum racism, including, I am saddened to say, my own local paper reporting that flyers saying “No More Polish Vermin” have been put through people’s letterboxes.
I myself witnessed a Leave campaigner shouting racial abuse at Asian tourists, and EU nationals I know have said that they don’t feel safe in Britain any more.
This is not the country I know, and love, and I am angry. At a time like this, we need to reach out and build bridges, but we also need to speak “Truth against the World” as the Druid saying has it.
I am angry that lying politicians with sub-Enoch Powell racist propaganda have led otherwise well-meaning people with genuine concerns for their country to vote to dismantle one of the world’s great noble international experiments in cooperation.
I am angry that my friends don’t feel safe in their own towns and cities.
I am angry that young people’s futures have been gambled with to score political points.
I am angry that fear has won over hope.
I am angry beyond words that an MP was murdered by a racist calling himself “death to traitors, freedom for Britain” and that Leave campaigner Nigel Farage then said the battle was won “without a single bullet being fired“.
As a Druidic Pagan, I believe that all things and all people are connected. We are one, and we must stand as one and not give in to division, fear and xenophobia.
So what can I do? I don’t expect to reverse the referendum’s decision, and I agree that it would be undemocratic to do so. But I can still write to my MP demanding a good deal for the future of Britain, with free trade and movement for UK and EU nationals across Europe, with guaranteed human rights for all, with robust environmental protection for our now-threatened wild spaces. I can join protests and show through sheer numbers that the decision is far from unanimous, and almost half the country don’t want this.
And I can try, in whatever small way I can, to bring peace, as Druids of old were known to do. I can show non-UK nationals that they are appreciated and that they are welcome. I can speak out against racism, and work for a better future. To that end, I have joined the Green Party, the one party to consistently and clearly articulate a pro-Europe, pro-immigrant, pro-environmentalist stance.
I leave you with the words of the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas:
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