There’s a wavering hand held over a yellowing map. A heavy weight hangs in your palm, flicking to and fro over its destination. The moment we drop the weight we are relieved. A great burden is taken from our own frame and descends like the dark and infinite problem that it is. The shadow of this stone cold iron force is growing ever larger, it expands outwards to the edges of the map, curling its lips at the unknown that lies beyond the rocky coastline that surrounds our current collective state of mind. If individually, we decide to bring the unknown down upon ourselves, we are forced as a people to endure that burden as one.
The nights are growing colder as each new inky midnight rises upon the skeleton of the country we all grew up being taught about, learning through our own mistakes. The consensus, the old order of things is crumbling all around us. There is no shelter to take when the thing that we voted to renounce was our shelter. No matter how hard the people in the hallways and toilet cubicles of power tell us that this was and always shall be the outcome, I know that this could have been avoided. This will be a socio-economic shelling of a people. We will be forever changed, I will not be able to convey to my children the world that came before the, for I will be cast out into the cold poverty ridden wilds as a madman. Our world is a world of demagogues and strongmen for the foreseeable future and I am scared.
All opinions I hold have ultimately been informed by another person’s words that I have happened to have heard on the radio or read in some book or other. If I were to be like all the plastic pundits spouting their prophecies from on top of the mount, I would claim all sorts of grand things. During the run up to the Brexit vote the electorate were convinced that a vote to leave the EU would cure all the problems that we all individually and collectively face. Money would appear for all the sick and those who have fallen on hard times from a single yes or no question. But I am no prophet, I am a man who works in a bookshop. I see all types of person, those fearful of the future like myself, and those who look to the course we have set ourselves upon with great optimism. They see me as a neutral observer, I stand behind the veneer of retail. I can watch the physical and emotional motions and machinations of these people and I know that they aren’t so different. The one thing that they have in common above all other things, is their fear for one another. They ride the same trains, they walk the same streets and yet they seem to feel like they could never utter a single intelligible thing to the other. We have stopped being people who differ in opinion, our ideologies have moved from the intangible to the tangible. Ideas are now a physical characteristic that must fight. Blood must be drawn, and yet we all know that ideas can never bleed.
“Do not be afraid; our fate
Cannot be taken from us; it is a gift.”
― Dante Alighieri, Inferno
Shuffle one place to the right, imagine who the previous resident of this space could have been. Imagine how they could’ve been similar or differed to you. Place yourself in their life and see yourself differently. You are but one in a greater number of others. If we must fight over the big questions, then let us find common ground in the small things. You love the smell of fallen browning leaves on a bitter autumn morning. You know the pain that can be found in loss and the ecstasy of love. Beyond the momentary political struggle, we find ourselves in there is a greater more existential battle that threatens all society; can we learn to listen to one another again? For all our sakes, I hope so.