I was devastated by the Brexit win. And non comprehending. And angry in a way I had never experienced before. I struggled to know what to do with these emotions. Being surrounded by like-minded people helped. I ‘got over it’ in a sense, extreme emotions predictably easing with time. However, I do wonder where it all went, the despair that I experienced at the time, that deep sense of alienation and isolation as a European cast aside. I retreated to a bubble of sorts. London of course is ‘different’ – we voted in – and I generally surround myself with ‘my kind’.

As the US elections approached, I was better prepared. I knew that the unexpected, the dreaded outcome, was possible. I stayed up all night to watch the horror unfold. By the early hours, it was clear that Trump was going to be the next US President. And yet I stayed with it, needing to witness the event. Otherwise I might never have truly believed that it had happened.

I was less devastated than I had been over Europe. Probably because the earlier experience encouraged me to believe that the unthinkable might happen. The ramifications for the world, for humanity, feel even greater than for the Brexit event.

For once, I am glad to be older. I have witnessed good things – the fall of the Berlin Wall, peace in Northern Ireland, the successful gay marriage referendum in the Republic of Ireland – that fuelled an optimism and a real belief in the compassion and kindness of humanity.

The bottom seems to have fallen out of such hopefulness, particularly for the next generation as they face decades of right wing extremism, fascism, and a move away from compassion and towards racism, bigotry, and evil. I feel sad that this will be my daughter’s legacy. I have always believed that having a child is probably one of mankind’s most selfish acts, and we compound it by expecting our children to clean up the mess, to somehow right our wrongs.

It is wonderfully inspiring to see young people so much more politically engaged, so galvanised into resisting and not being complacent about the wave of right wing extremism that is increasingly engulfing us. I believe that they can, with our support, make a difference. They can truly enable positive change. But it is a big ask, and a lifelong one.

There are no Brexiters or Trumpers in my bubble. And yet they exist in huge numbers. Just not in my world. I have been asking myself how did this happen – how has society become so segmented. I saw Ken Roach’s I, Daniel Blake last week. This is a harrowing, and necessary, film. It consolidated my belief that I have not been adequately and actively listening and engaging with the world that exists outside mine.

I feel changed by these experiences of 2016. My challenge now is to ensure that such change translates into something and someone more compassionate and less self-centred than she has hitherto been.

Bubbles are made for bursting.

 

CQ

 

 

 

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