There’s been a quiet buzz of nervous agitation in my life over the latest two weeks, and it’s about to come to an end.. fingers crossed. Yesterday I got the results from a biopsy giving me the all clear, no cancerous cells WOOHOO!
(That was a fun little surprise on my return from France, a letter and a voicemail saying, “Hey, you know that run of the mill pap smear that all women have? Yours is not so run of the mill, abnormal in fact. Come on in so you can have a quick meeting with Mister Speculum and, Madam We-don’t-know-what-you-are-but-we-are-not-going-to-ask-because-the-answer-would-be-somewhere-between-scissors-and-scalpel.”
Truthfully though the toughest part of the biopsies (AFTER fear and discomfort, obviously), was that I went to a party the next day with people I hadn’t seen for a while and had to vigilantly remind myself that during polite, catch-up chitchat, one should not, under any circumstances, mention one’s cervix.
So whilst out loud I was saying things like, “I heard about your job, congratulations.” “You just got back from where?? Tell me more!” “How are the wedding plans going? Are you excited for the big day?” “I’m so glad you decided to do your masters. No I’ve still no idea what I’m doing with my life.” “Trump…. let’s change the subject, this one’s too frightening.” In my head I was telling myself, “Don’t-talk-about-it-don’t-talk-about-it-don’t-talk-about-it-AGH-someone-just-mentioned-torture-scenes-in-Game-of-Thrones-DO-NOT-SAY-A-WORD-walk-away-walk-away-right-now.”)
With yesterday’s happy results behind me, today I need only be anxious about the Brexit result. Yes today folks, June 23rd 2016, is the day of the referendum where British citizens have the right to vote to leave or remain part of the European Union. I am, to put it bluntly, kakking my pants that the UK will end up leaving the EU.
The EU is not without its red tape problems, it’s no picnic pulling together nearly 30 countries and establishing a fair and equal relationship, but it is being done, and UK citizens are benefitting from it. To me it seems obvious that a country like Britain, which has enjoyed a seat of power and influence for many years, should be a member of the largest, strongest coalition on the continent.
Unfortunately not everyone feels the same. To put it very briefly the support for Brexit stems from a feeling that the UK puts too much into the EU financially and doesn’t get enough out of it. The thinking is that the UK’s freedom has been restricted by having to conform to EU regulations. There is a resentment towards refugees within the UK (although strangely, not outside it).
Well here’s the thing, as the saying goes, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Yes that saying, the one that has been said for millenia around the globe by religious icons, political leaders, poets, scientists, activists, economists, and humanitarians but that is normally attributed to Ben Parker, uncle of Spiderman.
Just because it’s been used in a comic book doesn’t make it any less true.
If you want to be powerful, you also have to take responsibility for those without power, and sometimes that means giving them money so they don’t starve. (I was actually feeling pretty proud of the UK for being an integral part of such a mass humanitarian effort to bring fiscal security to the poorest regions of the EU. Millions of people have had their lives vastly improved by that EU funding.) If you want rules to be fair for everyone, then they have to apply to you too. To use a sports metaphor, you can’t expect to sulk on the side of the pitch, complaining about the ref, and then be upset that you didn’t get the man of the match trophy.
As for the refugee issue, time to get over it and move on. Fear and hostility towards immigrants, and the needs to stretch or reallocate resources to fund immigration is an issue for every free country around the world, but it is an inevitable part of being a country with a good quality of life, and no person in the UK comes from truly British stock, we’re all immigrants from somewhere down the line.
So just stop worrying about how the culture is changing. That’s what cultures do. Culture accommodates and changes to reflect what’s going on in the affairs of the day. Sit back in your affordable, stylish furniture from Sweden; enjoy that curry/tapas/stir-fry/kebab/pizza/blue cheese and olive tapenade/ nachos; contemplate the luxurious feeling of silk and other fabrics not home grown in the UK (Until, the silk route made it to Britain we had wool, okay, that was it. Wool, leather, bits of string and lice.)
Enjoy it all, especially the lack of lice, and then plan a holiday abroad, whilst the pound is still strong and there are 27 countries for which you don’t need a visa.