Wow! Hands up who thought we’d be seeing Donald Trump stepping into the Oval Office? Yeah, I see you alone there at the back.
You can put your hand down now.
A little while ago us good people in the UK voted on whether to stay or leave the EU. It was an important decision, one that would set a precedent for all other member states to learn from. Not since 1984, when Greenland narrowly voted to leave, has there been such a display of powerful independence and outright stupidity (in this bloggers opinion) by another member.
The referendum was a long time coming with many politicians eager to promote each possible outcome as the absolute best thing for our little island. And when voting day arrived people flocked to cast their vote completely ignorant of what their vote would actually mean. We’ve all heard the various surprised and outright shocked responses from people who had voted to leave only to then sit bewildered when the leave vote won. “I didn’t think my vote would mean anything,” is my personal favorite. I’m sure you have yours. So the UK had voted to leave the EU. Markets stumbled, the pound fell on its arse and everyone was seemingly a little unsure of what it all meant.
But why were people going out to vote without knowing all the facts? Why weren’t we, as a nation, properly prepared? Should we be leaving the EU at all? Not in my opinion, no. We’re heading into uncharted territory here. When Greenland decided to leave, the EU was a much different place to how it is now. Sure, you could say that the vocal talents of the rallying politicians set on us leaving had done their job to sway peoples opinions. There was more than a few instances where delicate subjects such as immigration, border control and jobs were thrown around, but they were just statements without any real evidence to back them up. And, as it turns out, what evidence was presented wasn’t entirely true.
It is in this bloggers opinion that the UK was deliberately muddled and confused prior to casting our votes. The real consequences have yet to be fully realized. Will there be a change in the way we handle immigration? Will we monitor and control our borders more tightly? Will there now be an influx of jobs for our unemployed? And will our trade deal with America ever get sorted?
That last point brings me to the reason I’ve written this blog. We are, as a country, completely in love with the US. We’ve adopted their language; employing Americanisms at every opportunity. We’ve adopted their food, their cars (the SUV is now the go-to vehicle for anyone with a child), and we swallow their culture wholesale. Okay, I’ll admit to being guilty of all of those things in some way, but that’s my point. We don’t have an identity anymore. We’ve become an amalgamation of many cultures, it just so happens that the US is by far the most dominant one. If we watch a movie (another Americanism) it’ll most likely be from Hollywood, want to watch something on TV, well the best ones are all from across the pond (Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, etc, etc) because it’s a lot cheaper to buy their shows than make our own of the same standard. Want to have something tasty to eat whilst at the cinema? See my point? And then there is the new televised debates our hopeful party leaders partake in to try and boost their chances of election. Sound familiar?
And that takes us neatly to the US election. It was everywhere, wasn’t it. You couldn’t open your eyes without reading something about it, or turn on the TV or radio without hearing about it. Should we really care about it that much? There were various articles detailing the confusing and, somewhat entertaining, way their election process is played out. Twitter was alive with posts about it with everyone from celebs to the candidates themselves trying to sway voters. It’s been quite a ride. And then Trump won and the whole world seemingly stood still, mouths agape, unsure of what to do. But does it really matter that much to us? Why should it? We’ll still get their films, their fast food and their TV. We’ll still have a Top 40 chart full of their artists. Life will go on as normal. At least it should in the UK. Why should we care who their President is? Did the world stop and stare as David Cameron won a surprising victory? Did the US news channels fill their pages with what it could mean for their country? I doubt it very much.
So it seems strange to me that we would vote to leave the EU to reclaim our country’s identity when we’re so happy to have the US infiltrate our lives in so many ways. I like fast food in all its forms, I like big cars, I like watching all the movies and TV shows that flood across the Atlantic, I like the way they take English and make it more colourful. I like all of it, but then I didn’t vote to leave the EU. I didn’t vote to bring back our supposed lost identity, to stand apart from Europe and shout that I’m proud to be British and that we don’t need anyone else to tell us how to live. I was happy to be a part of the EU. It felt safe there, it felt normal. And who are we as a people anyway? Are we really British anymore, or are we a mixture of what it means to be a part of the human race?
The world has gotten much smaller from when I was a child. My own children, for example, have never known a world without the internet that makes it possible to reach the entire connected human populace with just a few clicks on a keyboard. So, to that point, do borders really even exist anymore? We live in a virtual age, in a world that is fully reachable in so many ways that to have borders at all seems almost like an act of rebellious futility. But perhaps I’ve been a little dismissive of the older generation here. It was, after all, them that most likely voted to leave the EU. You see, they can recall a time when borders meant something; when to be British was to be born and raised here without exception. I can understand how a changing world so rapidly evolving could frighten and confuse those generations that look around them and fail to recognise the country they grew up in. But in my opinion that’s what it means to be human. Not just now because we have the technology to reach across the planet and shake hands with a stranger thousands of miles away, but because that technology now makes it possible to do so. As a member of the human race we should always have been like that. Maybe the shaking of hands were done at a far more local level but nevertheless the shaking of hands should have been no less important. We may not be evolving in any discernible way ourselves but the world around us is and at an astonishing rate. We as a people need to adapt and accept it for the world is only going to continue to get smaller as technology moves ever forward.
The world is open and accessible and it would be a crime not to reach out and shake those hands.