In the wake of Britain’s vote to exit the EU, our household has become a steady hum of conversation.
Late night phone calls with our European friends and family living in London, LBC talkback radio streaming live and several media articles analysed over cups of tea.
What concerns me more than the outcome of this vote, is the unsettling (but not surprising) reasons behind the voters decision to ‘Leave’ the EU.
The steady ‘discontent over immigration’ is how The Guardian news outlet described it. An article in The New Statesmen more bluntly stated that ‘prejudice, propaganda, naked xenophobia and callous fear-mongering have won out over the common sense’.
The emotionally charged issue of immigration seems to have been at the forefront of voters minds who supported the ‘Leave’ camp.
Now that the ‘people have spoken’ (only British Passport-holding, those-that-bothered to citizens mind you) it seems their reasoning was mainly based on the desire to stem the flow of migrants coming to the UK.
I love being an Aussie, but I also love my Polish husband and everything that comes with his culture. He like many Eastern Europeans, moved to London in the hope of creating a life that was more prosperous than his potential prospects back home.
Like many immigrants, he worked long and hard for little, but opportunities were abundant and he made made the most of them all. Including bagging himself an Aussie wife (lucky guy).
While living in London we were fortunate enough to count amongst our friends, people from all over the globe, shared in their cultural traditions and festivities and attempted to learn some of their language.
I loved teaching in a culturally diverse school in East London, where the students and staff gave me a far better understanding of the world and the people in it, than I did them.
It was a wonderful place and we were the ‘richer’ for knowing all of them.
The world is becoming a small place, the idea of boarders and the strength of individual nations are not the same as they once were.
This offers up a multitude of opportunities for so many, but the fear of ‘The Outsider’ is still ever present, as this recent vote has shown.
The challenge to move to a new place, be it a country, state or neighbourhood brings with it all kinds of encounters.
The greater the difference in culture, geography and circumstance, the greater these challenges are and so makes the decision (or indeed desperate ‘need’) to move, even more remarkable.
Australia is about as far away (geographically speaking) from the cultural melting pot that is Europe, but is certainly not immune to similar fears of ‘the Outsider’.
We can all be by nature, sceptical, cautious and wary of those that are different. This is not always a bad thing, but I’m thinking that as our earth continues to turn, and our sense of existing in a global village becomes more apparent, we cannot afford to let our prejudices limit our potential to be a collective force.
The problems of the world become just that; all our problems and choosing to remain ill-informed, resentful or even fearful of others only works to harm ‘us’, not help ‘us’.
Seeing our world as the larger community, appreciating the collective place we all share in it and making steps towards understanding, is the only way forward.