Yesterday, I voted for the UK to remain in the European Union. I believed, as an immigrant of the world, that immigration was a good thing, that it strengthened nations and created diversity where diversity had been lacking. In fact, even in the aftermath of what was a quite sobering defeat to the Leave campaign last night, I'm still convinced of these things.
I also believe that nations are stronger when they work together, as evidenced by the significant decrease in continental warfare since the Second World War. In that time, the expansion of European trade has instilled a nation-to-nation togetherness virtually unprecedented in the continent's long and often bloody history. On this day—Friday the 24th of June, 2016—I fear a move away from Europe has the very real potential to render our wider neighborhood a fractured and uncertain place.
Right across the board I have strong feelings on this historic decision and believe with all my heart that we have, as a nation, made the wrong choice.
With all that said, I respect that you voted to leave the European Union.
It is—you understand—a thing of great difficulty to type a sentence such as that in an increasingly attack-minded world such as this. We have become so accustomed to meeting opposite beliefs with angry retorts and snide remarks. We have forgotten—as my friend Michael recently noted—how to disagree. So, yes, it took every ounce of humility for my fingers to type those words. But somebody had to type them. Because the truth is, while I have yet to be convinced by arguments in favor of the UK's disengagement from the EU or by Nigel Farage's insistence that his motives are not enveloped in bigotry, I am even less convinced that driving a further wedge between members of an already divided nation is a good plan.
After all, it would be hypocritical of me to talk up the benefits of a European community without doing the same for a potential British community—one that fosters mutual understanding and/or respectful disagreement. In the weeks and months ahead, amid what will be a time of profound uncertainty across the United Kingdom—especially in light of breaking news that David Cameron will resign as Prime Minister—it will probably be more essential than ever to hold back on those angry retorts and snide remarks and learn, once more, how to disagree.
Because, when all is said and done, you won. Democracy has spoken. The UK is withdrawing from the European Union and those of us who voted to remain must learn now to accept these unfolding developments.
Afterall, in the words of Jo Cox—the Labour MP and Remain advocate who was murdered last week—"we have far more in common with each other than things that divide us." I have to believe she was right. I have to.
Sometimes, it's better hearing me in a British accent. Click the red button below.