Acting in the Aftermath

So, the referendum on whether the UK should leave the EU is over – the result, by a very narrow margin, was for Britain to leave the EU.

And the immediate results were ugly.

A Prime Minister resigning – meaning that people who voted “for democracy”, as well as everyone else, will be stuck with a leader they didn’t choose.

A surge in racist violence, racist language, and racial hatred generally – meaning that British people who were born here with a different skin tone, a different accent, people who have lived and worked here happily for years, who proudly called Britain “home”, are now fearful.

A groundswell of young people talking of emigrating – meaning that the workforce could be decimated, that immigration would HAVE to continue to fill the gap – in a society where people not of white British descent may very well NOT want to come to Britain to take up those jobs, preferring, instead, to go to countries that aren’t publicly and loudly expressing racist views. Meaning that those jobs would go undone – necessary jobs; service sector jobs, healthcare jobs, jobs in the “future industries” of, for example, technology.

And a hell of a lot of anger.

I was one of the people getting angry – very angry, in fact.

The immediate anger was reactionary, dysfunctional, emotional anger – it needed to be expressed, it needed to be acknowledged, both by those who were feeling it, and by those it was directed at, but, by its very nature, it can’t sustain itself for long. It will – is already starting to – burn out, slow down, fizzle to a fade.

What is left – the rose beyond the thorns of all that negative, dysfunctional rage – is the calm, logic-informed, rational, but no less intense, functional anger that gets things done. The anger that says “I will not be cruel, insulting, or dishonest in my anger – but nor will I stand for the continuation of that which made me angry in the first place.” Opposing functional angers can clash, and will cause creative destruction – breaking things, yes, but co-operating in putting the pieces back together in a way that creates something enduring, and acceptable to all parties.

Over at The Writer Cliveson, where I throw up my more personal writing, I discuss a bit about how functional anger relies on knowing what you – you the individual, you the company, you the nation – actually want, rather than simply what you don’t want, and how you have to accept that Utopia probably isn’t possible, but look at it, and through it, to find the parts of it that are achievable.

For me, the “achievable” parts of my Utopia were respect and dialogue. Those are the aims I will channel my (now) functional anger towards.


So Much Negative – Where’s the Charge?

The shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

The shooting, in the UK, of MP Jo Cox.

The divisive, hostile language of debate in the run up to the referendum on whether Britain remains as a member of the EU.

It’s all too easy to look around and think “there can’t be any kind of ‘charge’ here.”  It’s easy to become overwhelmed, exhausted, to believe that nothing good can ever come from any of this.

I’ve been finding it hard to write, recently – I’ve been dealing with a mental health flare that the shootings in Orlando and the shooting of Jo Cox haven’t helped. I’ve been finding it hard to want to carry on.

I can’t yet manage a long, elaborate essay, but I think I can manage taking things piece by piece.

The Orlando shootings have stirred up the LGBTQ community against the gun lobby in America. The same community that brought about a societal shift that many at the time would have said was impossible. The same community that, facing death on a daily basis, have lost their fear of “things not working out.” They’ll take the risk that they can’t defeat the gun lobby, because it’s less than the risks. they’re already facing.  If the gun lobby can be wounded by Orlando, even, then there is a charge attached to its negativity. Something good will come from it.  If they can be shut down entirely – well, then, negativity will have been the charge that makes history.

The shooting of MP Jo Cox made both sides of the “Brexit/Bremain” debate stop and think about the language they were using, the way they were conducting their campaigns. They ceased campaigning following the shooting, which gave members of the public a chance to realise how divisive and childish the campaigns had been to date.  If a paradigm shift in the way Britain conducts itself politically comes from the death of Jo Cox, then there is a charge attached to that negativity, a charge that will move us forward to a place of lasting good.

There are a lot of thorns at the moment, and we will, inevitably, be hurt by them – but that should never stop us reaching through them, and finding the light in the darkness, the charge in the negativity.