Friday, 24 June 2016

A difficult day

Today has been a hard day.

I have felt incredulity that people have chosen to leave the EU. I have felt disappointment, fear, anger.

I have felt that my country, that I was proud to be a citizen of, has been taken away from me. I was brought up in a country that welcomed the people of the world, worked together with Europe, with the Commonwealth, and with others for democracy, relief of poverty, and peace around the world. It was not a perfect country but it tried to do the right thing.

Today, I have been told that the majority of people do not have that view of Britain. They think the UK is a very different sort of country. And that is hard. I feel like I don't belong.

But I am trying to end the day better than it started. I am reminded that nearly half those who voted do share my view of this nation. The former United Kingdom might be going in a different direction, but we do not have to change our hopeful hearts. The Mayor of London captured this very well when he reached out and said:

"I want to send a clear message to every European resident living in London - you are very welcome here. As a city, we are grateful for the enormous contribution you make, and that will not change as a result of this referendum.
There are nearly one million European citizens living in London today, and they bring huge benefits to our city - working hard, paying taxes, working in our public services and contributing to our civic and cultural life.
We all have a responsibility to now seek to heal the divisions that have emerged throughout this campaign - and to focus on what unites us, rather than that which divides us."

Friends from around the world have reached out to me, acknowledging my sorrow, and encouraging me with kind messages, concerned emails, wise comments. I am grateful. They have rescued me from my rage and frustration, lest I become that which has destroyed this nation's identity. The days forward will be painful and hard. But where there is life, there is hope.

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