My pre-Brexit view on the post-Brexit intolerance.
A few days before the referendum I wrote this down. Unfortunately, my concerns have been confirmed to say the least.
With another referendum around the corner and the tension between the two sides of the argument clearly rising (again), I sincerely hope that this time around we all manage to be a bit more courteous to one another.
The decision at hand might well be the most complex and difficult political choice we as a generation face. Anyone who argues otherwise and says it’s a clear-cut case must either be misinformed or biased.
I’m surprised to see how many of us allow themselves to be emotionally dragged into a debate in which very few hold any actual form of expertise. Once before already we managed to split the country, family, friends and colleagues, into a ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ side. Once before we created this collective sense of antagonism and passive aggressiveness. Please let’s not repeat that this time around; let’s not divide ourselves up in a ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’ side. Let’s not fight intolerance by being intolerant ourselves. Ironically it is often the people who use the word ‘’bigot’’ willy-nilly who themselves show a complete lack of tolerance towards people with different views.
Because when it comes down to it, it really isn’t any more than two sides of an argument, two opposing views towards an incredibly complex matter. These different views are held by groups so diverse that there’s even a massive cross- and inter-party disagreement with regards to the vote. Essentially, the two ‘different’ groups are made up by people from across the complete political spectrum, and are not tied to either age, race, gender, socioeconomic status, or any other variable on which you can divide people on.
I don’t believe this to be a case of right and wrong, there isn’t a morally right and wrong answer to this dilemma. It’s just too complex and there’s way too many reasons. Hence I find it rather arrogant if you presume that you can make a judgment call about what ‘kind’ of people vote for what reasons. A literal quote (by a political party member!) I just stumbled upon couldn’t prove my point any better ‘’Defeat the racists and their politics of hate on Thursday, vote Remain’’. Total madness. What about that environmentalist who votes Leave so that we can stop the controversial TTIP agreement? What about the socialist voting Leave to fight inequality and corruption? Being put in the same box as racists! This might be a somewhat more extreme example but I’ve seen dozens of these click-bait images or quotes going round tying certain personality traits to voting in a certain direction. They’re all along similar lines:
‘’Vote [X] is the more [positive/negative personality trait] vote’’
‘’These [good/bad people] vote [X], so if you vote [X] you support them’’
‘’Vote [X] to vote against [group of people that don’t resemble the vote at all]’’
‘’If you don’t vote [X], you are just like [certain group of people who have nothing to do with you], and that makes you [certain personality trait of certain group of people who you have nothing to do with]’’.
This is mere rhetoric, its language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect that lacks any meaningful content. Not only that, some of these statements (e.g. ‘’All politicians are liars and frauds’’) are based on a line of reasoning not too dissimilar from the people who say things like ‘’all refugees are terrorists’’. Totally preposterous.
Nobody has a monopoly on the truth (open door) and I understand that doesn’t make the issue any less important but what is clear is that it’s an issue that deserves a constructive debate rather than a destructive dispute. Well-balanced articles from reliable sources would contribute much better to a constructive and informative debate. Unfortunately, once again it seems that a balanced argument is the exemption rather than the rule. Our tendency to engage in black-and-white thinking consistently results in us failing to bring together the dichotomy of both the positive and negative qualities of the issue into a cohesive whole. What doesn’t really help is this current fad of ‘famous people’ having a strong political voice. There seems to be a ridiculous halo-effect surrounding the likes of singers, actors and comedians who these days are perceived as credible sources with regards to matters in which they lack any experience or training. In other words, as a psychologist I don’t pretend to be an expert on engineering, why do people like Frankie Boyle, Russel Brand or David Beckham pretend to be experts on topics like economics, politics and social affairs?
This is not meant to sound patronizing in any way but please remember: a democracy is not an ideal system, but it’s the best one available. Whatever the result of the vote, we’re still in this together. It’s still in everyone’s best interest to do as well as we can do for this country and its people. So whatever the result of the vote, please accept it and go with it. If you don’t accept the result of a vote, and aren’t able to support the ‘winning’ side you shouldn’t have voted in the first place seeing that you clearly lack believe in the democratic system.
And most importantly, the most effective way of dealing with our indifferences to this date still is just getting up in the morning and trying not to be a dick.
Anyway, as an EU-migrant I’m not eligible to vote this Thursday but thank you everyone who is going to vote. Whatever that vote might be I’m sure you’ll do it for the right reasons.
For what it’s worth. If I was eligible to vote I would vote Remain. But only just (about 55% according to one test). In short, I think the EU is a flawed system in many ways but I believe it still has the potential to be a great system. It might turn out I’m too optimistic but I believe that over the years we can increase the positives and decrease the negatives. But if we choose to Leave, I’m happy to make the best out of that result. Because that’s the only way a shared system can work.