It's been just over a week since the shocking Brexit was announced, letting the world know of Great Britain's elected decision to leave the European Union. Many of us have hard of the aftermath that included the startling drop in the value of the pound, but not everyone really understands why the decision occurred and how British citizens are feeling.
From what I've seen on social media here in the U.S., we have all sorts of theories about what Brexit means, both globally and locally, in terms of economic and social issues. Reading news articles can be informative, but I decided that reaching out to a friend of mine who lives in England and getting her take on the situation would be far more helpful and perhaps give insight into what we here in America can't grasp any other way.
My source said that, in her experience, a large portion of people feel both concerned and shocked as the remain campaign appeared to be secure. She said that, during the campaigning processes, it was hard to know really whether you were basing your vote on truth or propaganda due to the wide variety of bias and false facts being spread by both campaigns (not something we have any experience with, huh America?)
It was obvious in looking at the vote results that, while England's majority voted to leave (52 percent leave, 48 percent remain), Scotland's majority voted to stay (38 percent leave, 62 percent remain). My source expressed a concern that Britain may divide completely over this, leaving one of the world's biggest international organizations "standing alone and holding much less power." She went on to say that "generally, it seems that younger people tended to be leaning more to remain, whereas there was a pattern with older generations to vote leave," and went on to say that young millennials are the most worried as it seems to most directly affect our age-group as we head towards starting careers and having a family.
I know many of the negative responses that I saw online suggested that those who voted leave were spurred by a racist and xenophobic attitude. I asked my source what she thought of that theory and what she herself had seen in those who voted leave. She said, "while I would say that was perhaps one part of the tactics used by the leave campaign- trying to tug at people's nationalist views in the wrong way- I know so many people who voted out who do not have a racist bone in their body and that aspect of it didn't even come into play in their decision at all." While immigration was obviously an issue within the referendum, the economic and political factors were such a large part of it that "for people to be branded and generalized as racist for voting out isn't really accurate, as there were so many different types of people that voted out, and for so many different reasons."
I think my English friend's perspective is something we really should all keep in mind during any political conflict. Yes, sometimes people are racist or sexist or homophobic in their voting but, at the same time, we shouldn't assume that every person who votes one way or another deserves to be lumped in with those whose leanings are so extreme. She concluded our talk by saying that no one really knows what the future holds, but I think we all hope that England and Britain as a whole can recover from this unsettling transition.