As an American studying in Scotland, the scene plays out like some of the worst nightmares I’ve had about November: fear-mongering, xenophobia, a “return” to a time when things were “right” and “great”—but when “right” meant even less equal, and “great” was characterized by imperialistic ideas of worth and value, by laws legitimizing hate. Separation and terror and divisiveness has won the day, oh dear god—
Wait, no. Different nightmare.
No, the nightmare here is the Brexit vote to leave the EU that eerily trumpets (pun unintended, but apt) the same troubling values that plague my American nightmare, and in so doing, underscores an even darker reality: this is not a scourge that knows national boundaries. This is a global phenomenon, this politicization of hate, hearkening back to the 1980s, 1960s, 1930s, and countless times before—this human project of lessening ourselves by rejecting what can be learned in collaboration, what can be grown in communion: what can be gleaned from the simple act of compassion.
I was in Glasgow the day of the vote, and I found a Post-it left on a public map. It read:
Immigration enriches Scotland + the UK. VOTE REMAIN.
If you know my angle on these sorts of things at all: my process-oriented perspective is in full swing in responding to this state of affairs, and this message was a poignantly concise statement of the truth I hold to. The idea of creative contrast is at the heart of meaning making in such a worldview, and there can be no contrast if we eschew diversity. We cannot be enriched, there is such diminished potential for that broadening of self in isolation that it’s almost made insignificant. It cannot yield novelty.
Moreover, there can be no creativity if we trade compassion and camaraderie for hate. The very concepts we define ourselves by as humans—our capacity to make and create and innovate—are cut at the knees.