“It’s only because of their stupidity that they’re able to be so sure of themselves.”
Dear not so United Kingdom,
I am writing to you because these are really dark times. There’s so much fear in the air it’s suffocating.
Waking up yesterday was undoubtedly one of the most terrifying things that have happened to me, and the past 48 hours feel like I have been stuck in a manic dystopian dream and somehow I can’t wake up.
I am not writing to pretend I know anything about anything. Too many “facts” have been thrown around already, too many people pretended to know what was best, and well, here we are. I’m here to tell you that, as many, I chose you as my second home and you let me down.
You disappointed me and it’s hard to sit still and keep on going with life as it was knowing change is imminent. It’s hard to believe in democracy when you know people made their decision based on lies and made up facts. It’s hard to have faith in humanity when people come out and say they voted out “because they didn’t know what they were doing” or “because they didn’t think it would count”. But mostly, it’s hard not to feel fragile when there’s so much at stake and you don’t know what’s going to happen.
I’m still trying to comprehend that it is 2016 and this is happening. When togetherness is more important than ever, this isn’t where we should be going. And it is sickening. The sheer racism and xenophobia in all the gross propaganda that’s been shoved down our throats in the past few weeks is sickening. The idea that Europe is falling is sickening. All the violence against immigrants is sickening. The fact that Jo Cox’s death wasn’t enough for everyone to understand how idiotic this whole idea was is sickening.
“We’re stronger together” shouldn’t be just something you tell your children when you want them to join the football team.
I am terrified, and I am so lucky: so lucky I am in a relationship with an English man, so lucky I am able to express myself in English with barely no foreign accent left, so lucky my skin is white. So infinitely lucky, when I measure it like that.
I can’t even begin to process the amount of relationships that we lost. All the people that will never meet, the romances that will never happen, the friendships that will never form. It hurts me how much harder it would be for me and my love to be together if this had happened 3 or 4 years ago. It hurts me how hard it will be for people in the same situation as us.
The EU has brought me chances to travel like never before. The EU gave me the opportunity to meet other artists I admire, create art with them and become friends with people I had once thought of only as inspirations. Without the EU my relationship wouldn’t exist.
In 2008, I took an English course in Dublin that shaped me as a person and helped me practice my second language outside of the classroom — I didn’t even know back then how much that would mean. In 2011, I spent 3 days in Brussels and had the chance to talk in the European Parliament, with a group of students from all other EU countries in the youth project “Your Europe, Your Say”. In 2013, I met my boyfriend in London. In 2014, he moved to Lisbon for 6 weeks in April, and then later in September for 9 months so we could be together. In the summer of 2015, I travelled to Hamburg to see fellow artist Ana Z, who I connected with in the most pure of friendships, and I now consider my honorary sister. Later in 2015, having graduated from university, I finally took the leap and moved to England with my boyfriend. I’ve met people I love and places I’ll never forget, and none of this would have happened if the EU agreements didn’t exist. My boyfriend and I are just an ordinary couple with dreams of getting married, raising happy children and show them how amazing the world can be. This seems now rather difficult.
And you could argue, like many have, that most of these things would still happen if the EU didn’t exist, it would only be more difficult. Is this really what we want though? Making travelling, studying and working more difficult? Spreading hate and estrangement instead of supporting the exchange of ideals and multiculturalism?
It hurts me so much because I belong to the world. I was born in Portugal, yes, but I have friends scattered all over and my heart loves so many places. I’m a millennial, a dirty word for all old, blind nationalism, Britain first, patriotic folk, and I don’t belong anywhere. I don’t believe in borders, I don’t believe in frontiers. I believe in sharing.
Is this a romanticised, horrible, fragile, terrified version of myself and my thoughts? Yes. Do I know the EU has a lot of issues that need to be resolved as soon as possible? Yes. Do I think the EU needs to be reformed? Yes. Is this the way to do it? Most definitely not.
The EU needs your money, like it needs any country’s money. This money is put back into the EU, it helps countries survive and protects people from hunger, it builds bridges and roads (that you can drive on as much as you want because you’re free to travel within the EU), it goes back into helping those who need it more than you and it goes into culture, art and education, it goes into helping countries struggling to make their fishing and agriculture sustainable to our planet and it goes into running the EU has a political group and into our shared economy and our joint commercial agreements.
The EU does have laws that maybe one or other country won’t like. But they’re all for the mutual benefit. The EU means better environment laws, more protection all around, and more power to thrive in the common market. And you lost it all for nothing. You lost it to pettiness, for the 3 second feeling of greatness before the blood splatter hit the walls.
Britain, you shot yourself in the face to bring back a country that doesn’t exist anymore and will never exist again. The future is borderless, the future is a world that belongs to people — not to politicians that will say the first stupid thing that comes to mind like little monkey toys that you insert coins into.
I can only hope we can become friends again sometime. May Europe as we know it grow, and not fall.
I still love you, I do, because love is like that and doesn’t go away easily. But your toxic colonialist delusions are heartbreaking.
And now, I too, am out.
(The title of this piece is a quote from The Trial by Franz Kafka, which ironically is a brilliant dystopian novel that everyone should read.)