Britain voted to leave the EU this week. It made for an angry and confused Friday morning. I posted snippy comments on Facebook at a rate of about one every fifteen minutes. I also knew that there was nothing I could do. Even when you feel like Charlton Heston at the end of "Planet of the Apes", you have to suck it up and accept that sometimes things don't go as you like.
Of course I wonder whether the other side would accept this result. The ones who wanted to use pens. The ones who claimed that a 52-48 margin in the other direction would require a re-run.
I'm lucky. I can afford to adjust to the new normal. I worry for those who cannot. I'm well-educated with an in-demand skill set, I'm white, and I'm male. I'm not heterosexual (not that it's any of your business), but I do have a beautiful girlfriend so I can look like it. I can pass unnoticed, not be recognised as different by the newly emboldened wreckers of the status quo. Given the recent excoriation of experts, I should probably dumb down for pub quizzes though. I only fear what I will have to endure in the defence of others, not for what might happen to me.
I realise that there is a growing disconnect in British society, one that exacerbates an already schizophrenic national character. It is a mindset reaches for invention and discovery with one hand, while clutching tight to tradition with the other. I am writing a long blog post about how social networks are carving us up into walled-off tribes that cannot see one another. I think it is this collective unseeing, the collective denying of the unattractive other, that has allowed us to sleepwalk into this (inter)national tragedy.
I don't know how to fix things. But I think I want to talk to people more now, not less. I am going to start with people who agree with me. I've noted the houses on my street that, like mine, displayed remain posters over the last few weeks. I will write them nice letters that offer commiseration and solidarity. I will invite them over for a cup of tea.
After that I will try to go beyond my remain bubble. This is no longer a world in which one can feel secure against hatred, but it cannot be one in which we become afraid to talk to one another and afraid to listen to one another. I don't want to limit my perspectives to cosy narratives about innate human solidarity or resort to easy put-downs about intelligence. I want to understand the issues and concerns that brought us to this point even if they are unpalatable to me. At least at the moment I do, because otherwise I'm just at a complete loss.
The featured image is a screen grab of that final scene from "Planet of the Apes" where Charlton Heston's character discovers the sunken Statue of Liberty and finds out that he's been on Earth all along. In that moment he realises that everything he ever loved or believed in has been destroyed. I've used it for comic effect here (fair use) and I don't quite feel that way. Not yet.