Like many of you, I have friends and family in both camps Remain and Leave and in the interests of friendship the subject of Brexit is studiously avoided. However I got into a conversation about it with one of them and with great foreboding he asked why I voted Leave and I expressed the general sentiments of I wanted to deal with laws and the world on our terms rather than as part EU as I thought we could do better. Even though he was a Remain supporter he agreed, which really floored me and after each had expressed our views, agreed that friendship was more important than our differences.
This rather positive experience made me wonder how other Remain supporters felt and could a common ground be found. So I found the largest Remain group on Facebook, about 52,000 members, and posted a message saying I would like to talk to any that were willing, not for the purpose of conversion or argument but to build bridges. It was posted on a side bar as I was not a member and by that evening I had heard from no one. So I contacted the admin and reiterated I came in peace and could she help, she transferred my message to the main page and offered me protection if it got out of hand. Before I went to bed I checked again and found eighty odd messages on the post, I had requested to be Messaged to facilitate a conversation but I was happy to do what ever they were comfortable with.
By the next morning my other half told me it was a hundred odd comments, the response filled me with optimism and excitement at the opportunity to get some common ground between us. I spend all that day reading, reassuring and occasionally responding, when requested or when someone thought I was a robot or rabidly dangerous. A couple of people actually sent me friends requests so to better message me, which I accepted after ascertaining they came in peace.
As my comments to my friend had gone down so successfully I copied and pasted them and used it when my reasons were requested. I was more interested in listening to them and walking softly rather than spouting my side, which I did in the main apart from one man. His comment stated that all comments should be in Russian so to be better understood by me and my Russian handler, he felt the need to write this four times in a row. I am afraid I was a little sarcastic and told him the joke wasn’t funny the first time and didn’t get better with the retelling.
One person stated they would like it if we could express our views and then go for a drink after, one I heartily agreed with. A couple admired my courage regardless of my views and one said ‘We need more Lisa’s…as I had more courage than all the politicians put together, that particularly touched me. However in the majority expressed pretty similar reasons, maintaining peace, why leave a big club to go into the unknown and how would we influence things like environmental policies as a small country.
The atmosphere was one of fear, distrust, anger and a small amount of ‘just wait till it all goes wrong, we will be there to say I told you so,’. By the time it was time to go to bed the optimism had gone to be replaced with stress and guilt and not much sleep was had that night. The next morning I was not feeling the love at all, hurt that people judged me by my vote rather than getting to know me and felt like an idiot for doing something so stupid.
The two who had sent me friend requests I sent messages stating than though they were lovely I decided I couldn’t maintain the friendship due to irreconcilable differences and wished them well. The whole thing had left me extremely disappointed in my fellow man and wondering what I could have done differently. Having decided I needed a break from Brexit in its entirety I went to log out of Facebook and found a message waiting for me. It was from one of the friends, a lovely girl who had told me she cried when she heard the result and many other times since. She apologised if I had been given a rough time by the group and then blew me away with the one thing we have all forgotten, which I had completely missed. We have always had one thing in common we just have different ideas about what that entails.
We all love our country.
Everyone’s vote in the referendum was purely focused on what we thought was best for it, sadly it split the country in two. So in the season of hope let us focus on this one thing and with that major common ground between us let’s come together, in the New Year, to build together a better country for all of us.