As an In-voter, today’s Brexit result is not a good one. Actually, I think it’s terrible. But while I’ve been depressed and angry in the past at general election results that haven’t gone the way I wanted, I find that I’m much less angry and depressed this time. Oddly, this seems to be a consequence of my journey over last couple of years trying to understand risk and uncertainty. I have two things to contribute to this debate right now…
On the one hand there is the emotion. We humans are emotional people, and hiding emotion is undoubtedly unhealthy. My wife is trying to hold back the tears. So many people I follow on Twitter are scared, angry, depressed,… And genuinely bad things are actually happening, too: the FTSE has taken a dive, job candidates’ interviews have been cancelled, and there are more minor things such as people going on holiday unable to change money as some financial services have been suspended.
All this is real. Emotions are real. Stock prices are real. Jobs—and jobs taken away—are real.
Additionally we have found discovered some truths—my In friends and I would say tragic and damning truths—about our fellow citizens. We have discovered what they believe in, what they are afraid of, what motivates them, and we Inners don’t like what we’ve discovered. In fact it’s more direct than that: we have discovered what we, collectively, believe in, are afraid of, and are motivated by. For 48% of us that’s a pretty ugly picture.
On the other hand… I am reminded of the (often laughably empty) phrase I hear often from people with experience: We are where we are. As the emotions lift, what then?
Buildings are still standing, the sun continues to rise, children who went to school yesterday go to school today. And the future is not written. As an Inner I think it will be more difficult to shape a better future than before, but it is by no means predetermined.
Will we choose to build walls between each other? Will we build large communities or small ones? What will our business structures look like in 10 years’ time? How much will we choose to invest in our health services? What health services will we prioritise? How and where will our political dialogue occur, and what form will it take?
The answers to these questions and thousands of others are undecided. And the answers are up to us. We are not hostages to a future Britain, we are the ones who shape it. We are not bystanders, and we are not helpless. How we act, the choices we make, the places we go, the words we use, the things we influence and how we influence them are all open.
The referendum vote gave us some very valuable information about our country and our fellow citizens. It might not have revealed what many of us wanted to learn, but what it says cannot be denied. We can use that information to deepen divides or heal them. We can act, listen and see how others respond, adjust our actions accordingly, and repeat.
One thing that unites the Inners and the Outers is that we all want things to be better. The future is more uncertain than before, but we are not passengers on that journey to the future; how we act will influence things. We can choose to act for the better.