In a shocking move, the British people have voted to leave the European Union. That vote, however, does not reflect the views of nearly half of the British citizens. Young people overwhelmingly opposed that decision, and now they and their children must live with the consequences of an isolationist, paranoid decision that was made by the older citizens who won’t be around in 20, 30, 40 years.
This graph can give you an idea of the polarization:
Some of our oldest and dearest friends live in London, and they are devastated by the outcome. Our friend Paddy Kempshall, 41, says, “I console myself that the youth of today are the future of tomorrow and they have shown they’re a generation of inclusiveness and foresight. My children will always know humanity is about standing strong together and helping, not suspicion and self-interest.”
I was talking with my husband today, and we are hoping that what is happening in Europe will serve as a cautionary tale for those in the US who might be leaning towards Donald Trump. Let’s learn from Britain’s mistake.
I don’t want my children to live in a world where we build walls to keep people out instead of building supports to help them thrive once they walk in. As an adoptive mom, I have long subscribed to the view that it is good and healthy to open up our hearts and lives to those in need, that we are better together, that your child is my child is our child, that fear of those who are different only creates negative outcomes.
When I think about the impact of the Brexit vote, I am completely in line with this assessment by Brian Klaas and Marcel Dirsus for the LA Times:
“We find ourselves in a moment of global fear. The democratic identities of Britain and the United States are under threat — not from immigrants or even changing values, but from nationalists and xenophobes exploiting citizens’ darkest worries with populist projects, including Donald Trump’s campaign for the U.S. presidency and Brexit. To many voters, the world is a scary place. Terrorists seem to lurk everywhere. Uncertainty surrounds us. Change is rapid and some aren’t keeping up. Unsurprisingly, politicians of many stripes are capitalizing on our fears to rally voters against trade, immigration and international cooperation.
The costs will be substantial. Economists, business leaders and scholars almost universally agree that Britain’s retreat from the EU is a self-inflicted economic blunder. Recessions are contagious, and given London’s place as a global financial hub, Brexit will give Britain a particularly virulent cough. The pound’s value will likely tumble. The British treasury estimates that the nation’s households each stand to lose an average of £4,300, or about $7,000. And yet, tens of millions of voters were willing to take that hit.
The quintessential anti-EU voter, an aging unemployed white working-class citizen in northern England, might feel a certain solidarity with a similar Trump voter in rural America. Both have reason to feel victimized by a global economy that has left them behind. Both have concluded that the culprits are out-of-control immigration and an unresponsive government far away, in Washington or Brussels. And both have decided the answer is disengagement, solving problems alone at home rather than preventing them through cooperation abroad.
The answer is not to withdraw from the global community, hiding in your own protective shell as the world falls to pieces around you. Because we all need each other to survive in the long run.
Ultimately, no matter how fancy and well-stocked your own house is, you will need to go to the store to get more food and supplies for your children’s children. And if all the stores have collapsed, and all the people who might bring you supplies are forbidden to enter your property, and all those who might help them have been taught to hate them, they will starve. But maybe you won’t care, if you are no longer here to see it?
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