Earlier this year, Patrice Price a 26 year old mother of 3 from Milwaukee in the USA was tragically killed when her 2 year old son accidentally shot her in the back whilst she was driving on the highway. Her son found a gun in the back of the car that belonged to Patrice’s security guard boyfriend and now he no longer has a mother. I wonder, who was to blame for this tragedy? Patrice’s son for pulling the trigger? Patrice’s boyfriend for leaving the gun in the car? The firearm manufacturer for designing a gun with inadequate safety features? I’m not going to apportion blame but today’s sad news that the UK has voted to leave the EU reminds me of tragic episodes like this one. David Cameron and the rest of the Conservative party put the gun in the public’s hands; a public ill-equipped to deal with it; a public that it would seem resorted to voting with their gut, rather than their head and now any chance of a united Europe, or indeed a United Kingdom has been well and truly shot to pieces.
I’m a passionate believer in democracy. Democracy with all its faults, and all its short comings is still the best guarantee of freedom and peace that we’ve got (America, please don’t prove me wrong by voting in Donald Trump!). However, I certainly don’t think that asking the British public whether the UK should leave, or remain a member of the EU was the right thing to do, or the responsible thing to do. Sadly we had this referendum because David Cameron and other senior Conservatives thought that it would finally silence the Eurosceptics in this party. He bet on black (well yellow I guess) but red came up and now we’re all going to pay for his misjudged gamble.
I’m sure we’ll be told that, “the people have decided”. I wonder, is that ‘decided’ in the same way that a patient decides what treatment to take rather that their doctor? Or a child ‘decides’ what to study at school rather than their teacher? Both those scenarios would be absurd, but are they a million miles away from the public being asked to answer a question that collectively they are not best placed to answer? Perhaps I’m taking a dim view of the British public but too many times I heard people asking for the facts, asking for the opinion of experts and then dismissing them out of hand because they went against what, ‘feels right’. By all means choose a car on gut instinct, choose what to eat at a restaurant or what clothes to wear, but don’t choose the future direction of your country.
We elect politicians to make decisions for us, it’s kinda what they do. If we don’t agree with those decisions then we can elect another set of politicians to replace them. What we don’t expect is politicians to throw those decisions back at us and then complain when they don’t get the result that they wanted.
Today’s decision has left me disheartened and for the first time in my life truly ashamed to call myself British. I don’t know if I’m more annoyed with the British public (at least those who voted to leave the EU) or the irresponsible politicians who allowed this potentially terrible decision to be made in the first place. Who knows? Perhaps leaving the EU will be a good thing in the long term. In the short term it certainly doesn’t seem all that great. It’s no coincidence that according to the BBC 9 of the 10 ways that the exit could hit personal finances will result in less money in people’s pockets (the only positive is that savers might get a better return due to higher interest rates — whooppeee).
It would seem that the leave campaign ultimately won because of fear. Fear of immigrants coming and stealing British jobs. Fear of the EU meddling in our ways and fear of the EU somehow making Britain less British. Fear you might have noticed is not a good thing. Horror movies are heavy on fear, feel good movies less so. Good decisions are rarely made out of fear. Please, let’s not give into our fear of Europe and instead work together to embrace, rather than distance Europe. As a very wise man (well small green creature really) reminded us:
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering”.
Let’s hope it’s not too late to turn back from the dark side before our collective fear, turns to collective suffering.