When Ramana Maharshi was asked “how should we treat others?” he is said to have replied, “there are no others”.
I’ve tried and tried to compile a practical, useful, meaningful post about how we – as the raisers of the next generation – can deal with Brexit and the fallout from Brexit. The messy, embarrassing, ugly, textbook-rise-of-fascism fallout from Brexit – but until today couldn’t really get beyond the ‘we’re all fucked’ stage of grief over no longer being as European as I was last week, wondering whether I can still say ‘danke’ instead of thank you (because I like saying it, sounds kinda sexy) and whether everyone in Europe thinks England is a country of red-faced racists.
But it’s been four full days now, and we’ve got to start getting somewhere, looking inside ourselves and letting people ‘in’ who need an ‘in’, who need to know they’re in, that we are a place of sanctuary and comfort, love and support, and that we can be that place. In a week when the divisions in our country have widened, when angry, vulnerable people have been encouraged to berate and scapegoat other vulnerable people as a ‘reason’ for the broken society they see all around them (which is about to get a lot more broken and is absolutely nothing to do with the people we’re told it has stuff to do with),we have to pull together. And part of me wants to run to London (which isn’t that far from me) and just stand outside Westminster yelling,”fuck you, I’m not leaving the EU!” or bang on Angela Merkel’s door and beg her to take me in and feed me veggie Bratwurst, but the other part of me knows that this isn’t possible or helpful now. There are ways we can beat this. We can fuck this right up, turn it on its head, make it the making of us. I almost believe myself.
But what do we tell our kids and what can we do from here? I’m no expert, but here are some of my ideas.
1. Tell them you’re angry, tell them why. For surely it’s better for children to be told how we feel than to sense a strange foreboding that they can’t put their finger on. Tell them that humanity is good but some of its systems are bad. Tell them they’re not powerless, that they’re strong and we’re strong against this.
2. Tell them you love them. Because the world needs more of that. They can’t be what they can’t see – it’s such a bland, soft-focus sort of motivational phrase, but in many ways it’s true. To know it’s possible for love to be powerful, for it to win, we need to show them how powerful and winning it is.
3. Tell them there are no others. That we are one, and don’t give a fuck if that sounds cheesy because it’s true – there are no others, there is no ‘over there’, it is everywhere. Humanity is everywhere and we are not divided.
4. Tell people around you that there are no others. Tell anyone you can, and in particular anyone who you questions another’s validity to be walking on this patch of land we’ve called ‘UK’ because someone thinks they sound or look like they’re from some other patch of land. Tell them there is no ‘them’. If we can do this in love, in service to humanity, then – fuck me – it must be the right thing to do.
5. Make some art. I really, quite honestly can’t stress the value of this enough. Make political art, protest art, grateful-to-be-breathing art, personal art, personal political art, any fucking art. We need art while we can still make it. I don’t want to get dramatic, though doubtless someone will say I am being so, but we need to make art while art is still allowed – we’re free, we need to exercise that so no one forgets it. We need to be able to feel with art, to share it, to display it, to make it and let it represent us – humans who are opposed to coercive majoritarianism masquerading as democracy.
6. Exercise your democratic rights. Okay, so we live in a world where democracy is spin, but we can actually take back real democracy by exercising our rights. Or at least we can give this a damn fine go. Email your MP, call out elected individuals who are not representing you, report and scream out loud about incidences of injustice, organise people around you so you can do all this together. I dunno, I’m just a socially awkward feminist parent behind a keyboard, but go for it, try. We need to try.
I’ve made my feelings on Brexit clear over the past few days – fear, despair, anger, rage, fury – and I recall sometimes my parents telling me that political talk isn’t appropriate. But I reject that – however well it’s meant. I know it’s generational, but I NEED to talk about this. It goes beyond a political scandal or the sacking of a disgraced MP or one corrupt leader – it’s a whole system permitting lies and rhetoric at the expense of actual democracy. Democracy cannot exist unless everyone voting has full access to accurate information.
I could go on. I won’t. I just want the EU and anyone (who is lucky enough to still be) in it to know I love you, I want to come back, I want to eat croissants and Ritter Sport with marzipan inside til I’m buzzed and European again. I want you to have us back, to pretend Nigel Farage never happened – he was just one of our silly English comedy moments, nothing more to say or see.
Feck. Let’s just do what we can to get each other through this.