by Kelvin Smith
Content warning: mentions depression
A sign of depression, I was once told, is that you do things that you know are against your own best interests. By this measure, the ‘leave’ vote on 23rd June was an example of a depressed populace voting ‘leave’ not because they thought things might be better, but because a majority didn’t care if they actually got worse. Now for the first time, we really are all be ‘in it together’ — in the shit that is: happy as pigs.
As some of the dust settles we are urged to ‘keep calm and carry on’ — perhaps Carry on up the Brexit is already being filmed — but this is most certainly not the answer to our various different but pervasive moods of depression. While we are all going to find our own way out of this mess, I begin to see that I must continue to engage with the continent of Europe as I have before, but with more energy and purpose.
As I cannot ever be well informed if I rely on the BBC and the British press for news, I will read, watch and listen to the wide variety of European news media that are now available through the Internet: not just the mainstream media but alternative news sources from all parts of the political and cultural spectrum. I will connect with other countries in Europe through social media.
A side effect of this will be to reawaken and reinvigorate language skills, make me realise how much usage and vocabulary changes, encourage me to struggle with languages of which I know little. I will read more books in languages other than English, and will read more translations of European writing — I have made a start with great novels from Finland, Serbia, and Iceland.
I will make sure that friends and contacts in other European countries know that half of us do not want to turn our backs on Europe. I will communicate more, both directly — through words and deeds — and through writing and speaking when and where I can.
Even if someone decides to change my passport to a retro-styled blue cardboard job, I will continue to travel in Europe as a European. I will continue to believe in the importance of the kindness of strangers and will strive to be kind to strangers myself.
I will not assume that I can change the political process, but will engage with it where I feel I can make a useful contribution. My behaviour will reflect the person I think I am, and I will not hold back my encouragement and support for what I believe in. I will resist attempts to make me blame others or to blame myself.
These actions are a start to not accepting the course my country appears to be taking in the world. I want to keep my own sanity and joy, and hope that these small beginnings will make me a better European, and that some of my resolve may rub off on my country of birth and residence.
Featured image © Mary Turner/Getty Images