Let me start with a positive spin on this whole EU referendum mess: I am nearly forty (two years off in case you were wondering) and this is the first time I have experienced significant emotional angst as a result of a political situation. True, Britain’s leaders haven’t been perfect, and they haven’t always done what I wanted them to do, but neither have I seen laws passed that deny me the right to an education for my gender, or had to wave goodbye to my freedom to worship, or watched the price of a loaf of bread rise to a trillion pounds, or endured a war that forced me to run for my life. I’m one of the lucky ones.
I saw my friend Matt today. He’s an eternal optimist and he thinks everything is going to be okay. I tried to absorb some of his positivity but even though he cheered me up temporarily, once I’d left his upbeat company I was reabsorbed by gloom.
I’ve been battling a slide into depression since last Friday morning when I woke to the news that 51.9% of voters had thought it a good idea from Britain to go it alone. I’m really bad with anger; I find it awfully hard not to let It double back on me, sinking into me with a dull, heavy pain. On an intellectual level I know I am really angry, but actually feeling it is scary. Maybe it will cause me to hurt someone’s feelings, or damage a relationship I value.
I’m angry because it seems to me that what we’ve just done is an act of self-harm on an epic scale. We’ve hurt our country, we’ve hurt the European Union and we’ve hurt the rest of the globe, and there was absolutely no need for all this hurt. I’m angry because of the ignorance behind so many people’s votes, and for racism it has unleashed. My Bulgarian friend Vania says she feels unwanted and unsafe here since the vote. I’m angry because this was never a decision we should have been given to make. I’m angry with David Cameron for calling the referendum, for abandoning ship when we most need steady leadership and for insisting this poll must be acted on when there is absolutely no legal obligation to do so. I’m angry with the personal ambition that seems to have been Boris Johnson’s only motivation for joining the Brexiters.
I’m also scared and sad. No one knows what’s going to happen, but so far it all seems like bad news. If I wasn’t British, I might be laughing at the scale of the disaster we’ve brought upon ourselves. This man certainly finds the whole thing very funny.
So how to live with all these emotions? David’s Psalms have always helped me pray when I’m feeling rough. He lets fly with the inner chaos and then he brings it back in to land on a bedrock of reliable truth. Here is my attempt at a prayer modeled on David:
Lord this is a mess! Everywhere I look there is chaos and disaster.
Where are wise leaders? Why has this situation been allowed to happen?
I’m scared Lord. I’m scared that inward looking nationalism will lead to war, that racism and hatred will flourish, that the poor and vulnerable will be abandoned, that the damage we’re doing to our planet won’t be checked and we’ll destroy your beautiful creation.
God you see the beginning from the end. You are good. You love us with a love that will never waver. You will one day restore all things to how they should be. You are just and merciful and kind and patient. I don’t feel hopeful but I choose to hope in you.