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Well, this is familiar isn’t it?
Americans will now go through the period of shock, mourning and grief we went through on June 24th. And so will the rest of the world.
But if we all descend into fear and hopelessness, things will only get worse. Fighting spirit is more important than ever. So amid our anger and disbelief, let’s remember three things that can give us hope.
Firstly, the Brexit vote has sparked a movement of change in the U.K. and in Europe. The aftermath has seen all kinds of fury-driven, brilliant new ideas, new groups, newly engaged people. Organisations like More United, the Progressive Alliance from Compass and Common Ground – all with different approaches but one goal, to reunite our country and fight for progressive politics.
My colleague Laura, who played a big role in the We Are Europe campaign, was inspired to undertake an evening Masters degree in European Policy as a result. Her course has had to double in size to keep up with demand – jam packed with angry, passionate people who are giving up literally all of their spare time to forge a new path together.
Secondly, thanks to the digital revolution, the population of this planet are becoming global citizens – thinking, communicating and working beyond borders. We increasingly – and correctly – see ourselves as many interconnected parts of one whole, not a disparate bunch of separate entities.
The majority of us certainly don’t believe that breaking down peaceful alliances or building giant walls are the solutions to society’s ills. What we do believe is that diversity brings strength, equality breeds prosperity, and that to do well we must also do good. This change in mindset is happening across all generations, but it’s particularly strong in the millennial generation. And the millennial generation is, quite literally, the future.
Finally, remember that you are NOT helpless – you are more powerful than you know. But posting on social media is the very, very beginning of that power, not the end. The algorithms of social media are one of the most dangerous threats to our society. We are locked in our own echo chambers, reinforcing our own opinions, feeling safe but in reality creating outraged bubbles that prevent us from taking meaningful action. We post, we get likes, we feel better, we move on with our lives.
So by all means, do post today – be angry, express your disbelief, share memes of outrageous Trump comments and sad-face emojis. But remember that posting achieves little, unless your friends and followers are outside your own personal echo chamber of people with similar views.
This isn’t 2016’s fault, though our social media feeds would lead us to believe otherwise. 2016 is just a year – a concept created by humanity to try and help us make sense of our world. It’s the people living in 2016, it’s us. Our actions as individuals. From the Persian Empire, to the beginning of democracy in Athens, to the Second World war – our times are created by the actions of the people living in them.
So this week, please, take a moment to consider how you – you personally – are impacting our times. Your life, your work, your decisions. There are many, many ways you can exert your own power. Find them, use them.
Our society goes through ups and downs. As the Dalai Lama pointed out last week, overall, the world is actually a healthier, cleaner and less dangerous place to be than any other time in history. This isn’t the start of humanity’s decline – it’s a setback. A big, crazy-haired, attention-craving setback. Let’s roll up our sleeves and navigate it together.
Rosie Warin, CEO of Kin&Co and co-founder of We Are Europe.
About WAE: We Are Europe was a grassroots pro-EU campaign that became the third biggest ‘In’ campaign group of the referendum, and contributed to youth turnout growing from a predicted 32% to 68%.