Communication Breakdown: The EU Referendum

We need to change the way we communicate. Right now. Here in the UK, everyone is reacting to other people’s reactions, in an insane run of events that has led to unprecedented turmoil and upset. People aren’t talking to each other. Germany refuses to talk to the UK parliament until they begin the leave negotiations. Labour ministers refuse to talk to their leader about the best way forward. The Prime Minister is resigning, leaving the talking to whoever takes up the difficult role. Friends are attacking and “unfriending” each other all over social media. This sort of behaviour is based in punishment: an eye for an eye. We have been hurt, we will hurt in response. We are emotional creatures.With the lines of communication closed, we are stuck here in limbo, everyone reacting instead of acting with intention. Reactive behaviour is, for the most part, usually not the best behaviour.

Emotional responsibility is something that is seriously lacking in our society. In fact, any responsibility is met with apprehension, especially personal responsibility. Far too many are eager to find power under the guise of responsibility for others, but when it comes to perhaps changing their own behaviour they will never even consider it. It’s everyone else’s fault, people are stupid, people are ignorant. We will not even talk about changing our own behaviour, lest we admit to something that needs improvement. Sure, we’ll criticise the hell out of others, for don’t we see that every day in the media, from television entertainment shows to the PM’s questions every Wednesday lunchtime? And yet, where is the real communication?

If we are emotionally responsible, we won’t simply unfriend someone on Facebook because they didn’t vote the same way we did. So what if a friend voted for Leave? So what if a Remainer said something stupid in response? They are reacting. We can stop, see their pain, see their fear, try to see why they are reacting in such a way. In that stopping, in that attempt to understand, there is compassion. And where there is compassion, hopefully the lines of communication can reopen, and respectful behaviour ensue. Hopefully then, we are acting with intention, not in reaction.

Sometimes it just isn’t possible, and I understand that. Sometimes someone hurts us so bad, has just been so horrid that we will simply not put ourselves in that position ever again. This is something that has usually happened over a longer period of time, where the behaviour has been repeated again and again. We give them a second chance. And maybe a third. And then, if there is no value, if there is no respect, if there is no honour then we can walk away, in peace. And wishing them peace. But if walking away in anger, without first trying to establish the lines of communication: if this is the first and only thing we do, then there is very little chance of reconciliation, of compassion, of communication. Maybe we just have to accept that humans will be humans, that they will do and say stupid things, that they have opinions, both good and bad, and we will also have ours, good and bad, stupid and brilliant. But if we stop talking to them, we lose all chance of hope for a future together.

There is so much divisiveness right now, in this so-called United Kingdom. There has been blood shed, a life lost, and more death threats to others because of fear, because of lack of communication, because of ignorance, because of poor communication, because of misinformation and manipulation. There is a growing blatant and overt racism and prejudice, fuelled by ignorance, by fear. If we are talking to each other, then maybe this can be overcome. Where we are no longer talking, there is no hope for change.

We need to change the way we communicate. Right now.


Working with Fear: The EU Referendum

EU referendumRight now it feels like we are living in a country filled with fear. With the EU referendum just around the corner, the future of this country appears to be at stake. The tactics being used by both sides promote fear, which as my teacher Bobcat always said, is never a good motivator. When we use fear to create change, we risk ruining our chances of real transformation because all people want to do is alleviate the fear.

There are many ways to try to alleviate fear. One is simply avoidance. We ignore it, we don’t turn up to vote, we remain ignorant on the issues, we fall into apathy. It’s the easiest way to not have to deal with fear. We can also resort to escapism, through alcohol and drugs, television and more. But we all know that ignoring a problem usually doesn’t make it go away. It’s an illusion, and we have a responsibility to create the world that we would like to live in.

Working with fear means challenging ignorance, challenging what may be uncomfortable to deal with. Changing our behaviour is hard work. But we can do it, we have the ability to respond, true response-ability. We can move through the fear, to see through it and to calm the fear through learning and integration.

If we are ruled by fear, we risk behaving disrespectfully, to others, to the environment. If we are instead ruled by a desire to create a better world, to strive for the good of all, to live a life fully integrated in world, in our locality, in our ecosystem, then there is little risk. Instead we are motivated by compassion, by love, by devotion, by duty, by care for others.

We have already seen tragedy occur in the run-up to the EU referendum, with the murder of MP Jo Cox. We need to take stock of our actions, of our words, our thoughts and our deeds, every single one of us, no matter which side we are on, and act accordingly. As Druids, as Pagans, we need to lift the veils of ignorance, apathy and fear and face the truth against the world. May there be courage in our hearts, and may there be peace throughout the world.