Emotions running high…. RIP the word ‘peace’?
I think I am all angered out. This is probably only temporary (there’s no ‘probably’ about it) but, for now, I’m back to instagramming kittens.
How has it been for you, seriously? I mean, everything. This tsunami of foundation-rocking stuff, collectively. From the first wave of pre-EU Referendum shilly-shallying, to the State of Emergency that has, as I write, just been announced in Turkey.
I could see it. Well, at least some of it, way back. Regular readers will already be aware of my pointless but impassioned plea not to even HAVE this referendum. Surely this was too big, too complex, too constitutionally life-changing to be decided with a simple yes or no? Surely no-one could possibly know enough about global economics to even begin to know where to put their cross?
I fretted big-time about that, I can tell you. Whatever the outcome, about the massive ramifications for our national cohesion. About the outpourings of lies and bile already spewing from the internet. And remember, this was back when I thought we remainers would ‘win’ – and how pyrrhic a victory it might be.
And what powerfully emotive words ‘win’ and ‘lose’ have become. Because this firestorm of argument was just a rehearsal. Turns out it would become even more bitter and divisive than I could have imagined, with the orchestrators of 48% of the voting population’s current misery either betraying, being betrayed, or waving ‘bye-bye, I’m getting my life back’, while their lies were exposed even before cock-crow.
Emotions, running high, both inside and out of Westminster, like the engine on a boy racer’s Fiesta. And down on the farm – I was at Glastonbury – that sense of complete unreality. That bleary-eyed, astonished, ‘what the **** just happened?’ mumblings. What was going to happen to us all now?
And, ‘remain’ or ‘leave’, once the initial incredulity had died down on both sides, we all duly fell into step with our so-called (transient) leaders – becoming grubby, sharp, mean, aggressive, rude.
It was as if the lunatics had taken over the asylum. Whichever way you voted, didn’t you think that? Protests – of course, protests – protests about the protests, previously mild people screaming at eachother from their respective virtual terraces, as if this really was something that lent itself to a primitive ‘you lost, we won!’ rhetoric, or – to provide balance – the similarly reductionist ‘you voted ‘leave’ because you didn’t think!’ response.
I have engaged, even if at all times politely. I’ve signed petitions, written to my MP, done my fair share of questioning our collective ‘wisdom’, fielded too many impassioned cries of ‘****ing grow up! Get over it!’, watched from the sidelines as wars have raged – bloody wars, taking no prisoners – down those same dark virtual alleyways I alluded to back in May.
I’ve heard and believed the warning that here be the seeds of civil war. The 52 versus the 48. The nearness of the numbers. The enormous, scary societal gulf now exposed.
Emotions, running high. Like the boilers in a racing warship. Feeling too much, about too much, a thousand times a day. Feeling the veneer of social cohesion to be worryingly fragile. Feeling the imminence – taking the lead from our imploding political parties – of naked hate. Of violence in the streets.
And into this, violence in the streets. Pre-referendum – remember those days? – it was Florida. Those exasperating, genocidal, bloody gun laws. Another swathe of young lives taken. RIP.
Then Istanbul Airport. Barely a ripple on the argument-filled post-Brexit virtual landscape, but a dagger through the hearts of another swathe of innocent humans. RIP.
And then Nice. Which left everyone stunned into virtual silence. Not in the sense that the communities stopped talking – but that, for a moment there, we were all just too stunned to know what TO say. Except RIP.
How was it for you? This too-close-to-the-bone show of terrorist ambition? How on earth do any of us process such carnage? How do you square the circle, and arrive upon some sort of helpful equilibrium between the part of you that rages, and the part that tells you (ad nauseum, it’s sometimes seemed lately) that only love can conquer hate? That to refuse to engage in hate is the only way to proceed?
Emotions running high, like an overflowing storm drain. And still, despite the sun, the storm clouds keep amassing. My MP says he’ll meet me. I’m wondering if it’s wise. Or if, for the moment at least, I should pass, get some space. Instagram some kittens.
Quiet the anger. Don’t you feel that too?
First published in The Western Mail Saturday Magazine, July 23rd 2016