The Huffington Post: In The Aftermath Of Brexit And Trump – It’s Time For Us All To Make Friends

As published on The Huffington Post

‘When they go low, we go high.’
Michelle Obama’s mantra from Clinton’s campaign needs to be carried through the next four years.

Brexit made me sad and angry. Waking up to Trump becoming president also made me sad and angry. But you know what, they also made millions of others feel heard. People who felt ignored cast their vote and had their say. And we who don’t agree with their choice need to listen up and think about why. It’s time to accept those changes and now work out how we can all move forward together, not divided.

Ever since yesterday morning, I’ve been bombarded facebook updates, tweets and overheard others lamenting the results. It’s true, the result of the election is not what I wanted. I’ve had my rants, I’ve made my witty quips. And now it’s out of my system it’s time to be a grown up and move towards acceptance.

There’s no point in sulking over 2016 and the events that have unfolded.

We can sit and brand it ‘the worst year ever’ or lament over what could have been. But after witnessing two very strongly fought campaigns on either side of the pond that many branded as divisive we need to realise something. How we deal with what happens next will be what truly defines this year.

Judging and alienating those who think differently to yourself is just as divisive and hate mongering as these campaigns have been considered. The ‘bashful brexiteers’ and ‘timid trumpettes’ shouldn’t be made to feel like they have to hide. We need to ask more questions and listen to the answers and try to understand each other.

We’ve struggled to get through 2016 in one piece and if we don’t change our approach then next year is going to be even harder. 2017 should be about building friendships, uniting fronts and finding compromise.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t keep fighting for what we believe in. Don’t stop questioning the terms of Brexit or pushing against Trump’s views. Keep campaigning for equality, justice and fairness.

But whilst we continue to fight we must respect everyone’s right to their opinion. We have to listen to the disenfranchised and include them in our discussions.

Fight for what you stand for and stick by your principles. And before you sigh, shrug and move on with your lives I have one last plea: remember how angry you are feeling right now. Still remember the feeling in 6 months. Harness the energy and passion it’s given you.

Get a piece of paper and a pen right now and write down the things that worry you most about yesterday’s result. Stick them on your fridge or next to your computer screen and vow to fight for those things.

Promise to write to your local politician when one of these things flares up. Keep hold of your anger and use your energy and voice to make sure you’re damn well heard.

Because that’s all that will work.
People power.
Pushing for what you believe.
And not closing your mind to others.

It’s all very well to sit and grumble about today’s result. But maybe instead recall how Barack dealt with those who booed Trump and his values: “Don’t boo. Vote.”

Don’t moan, don’t whine. Engage and fight on. But what we need right now – last Obama quote I promise – is “a sense of unity, a sense of inclusion, a respect for our institutions, our way of life, rule of law, and respect for each other.”

Because if we keep our minds and hearts open through these difficult times then perhaps we’ll actually get somewhere in the next four years.

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