In her latest blog, Kristina Simonaityte looks back on Brexit and the trend of polarizing debates.
Everyone’s probably already fed up talking about it.
It has made people anxious, worried, confused. Having myself studied in Scotland for four years, I was devastated upon learning the news. I guess, it’s both the selfishness and fear of changes that’ll likely affect us all, as well as genuine sadness over a truly great country choosing isolation over cooperation.
Brexit, however, is just the latest of the extremely polarizing debates. And that growing black-and-white division in the societies is especially scary. More so, the intolerance and bullying of the other side by the young, highly educated and highly privileged, themselves supposedly backing the right, the smart choice, are really not helping the matters. Considering myself one of the latter, I often dismiss the arguments of those thinking differently and pride myself of standing on the right side of history. And it also makes me incredibly ashamed.
The fools and us
Let me give another example: the previous weekend “Baltic Pride” was held in Vilnius for a third time. The progress since the first march six years ago has been unbelievable, but Lithuania is still sadly a largely homophobic country. While some people are very aggressive towards LGBT*, many more are moderate, their arguments mostly about traditional family values, whatever that means.
I might not know anyone personally who was gleeful about what happened in Orlando a few weeks back (and shared that glee online for everyone to see). But I do know people of the second kind. They are good, intelligent people. And yet, in my head – and heads of people I follow on Facebook – those against LGBT* rights are all lumped together in a single blob of “dimwitted fools” (usually it’s much stronger words).
Rightness and wrongness
The same goes for Leave voters. I’ve seen little compassion or understanding of their case on my Facebook feed. There’s been a lot of mocking (Googling what is the EU after the referendum! Plummeting pound, billions lost! That’ll show you!) and blaming the old, the poor, the uneducated. I’m in no way justifying the xenophobic narrative of the Leave campaign or those who voted against the EU for racist reasons. I’m questioning, though, the blind conviction of rightness and wrongness on both sides.
And yet, I can’t place myself in the shoes of “Independent Britain” proclaimers. And surely, those against human rights just can’t be right.
But humanity thrives on compromises and acceptance. I don’t think anything good has ever come out of intolerance and narrowmindedness. Even of those who, in the end, turned out to be right. Right?