My apologies upfront – this is probably going to be quite a personal blog. Like many of us, I have sat in front of the TV twice during the past months and couldn’t believe what just happened – the most unimaginable scenario – at least that is how most of us regard Brexit and the election of Trump over here. Did I see it coming? No, not really. Did I feel it could be evolving differently than everyone expected? Yes, maybe. Why? Well, I figured that many weren’t really sure about what would happen. No one really seemed to be convinced that it would all be fine in the end – at least when it comes to the recent US presidential election.
“It’s idle to discuss the how and why –
too many people did that already.”
We should rather wonder, why we indeed got the signs and didn’t really believe it could come true in the end? This is not only about the UK and the US. There are more than enough signs that it is not unlikely to also happen in the Netherlands, France and Germany as well. Austria has spoken already. People seem to be tired of globalization and being governed by an association of different countries and organisations. They seem to want their country back the way is has been decades ago. They…, who exactly is ‘they’?
Before Brexit and the US presidential election I have spoken to a lot of UK and US friends and former colleagues asking them what they think and desire for their countries. I did that just out of interest. I wanted to know, if people who live and work over there would have a different view on things than we as continental Europeans. In fact I couldn’t find a single person who would have voted for Brexit or didn’t support the liberal/democratic idea in the US. In hindsight I realize that my assessment has been biased. Looking critically at my own little “poll” I realize that I only know well educated UK citizens and Americans with good jobs, promising career perspectives and international work experience. People who have left the UK and US many times for business or vacation and use the advantages of globalization every day. People from every ethnicity that live a good life as a British or American and as a world citizen. I do have to admit that I don’t know any steel workers from Detroit, farmers from Wyoming or tin miners from Cornwall or Devon. So my understanding of the average mood of British and American people was just wrong – unilateral. I guess this happened to many of us, even to significant parts of UK and American society…
However, looking at the future, many people just seem to be frightened. Especially multi-cultural societies and the younger generation feel that we are taking huge steps back right now. All we have achieved during the past decades is going to be destroyed or at least not continued. The bright future people imagined to have within a world of unlimited possibilities doesn’t seem as bright anymore all of a sudden. At least for now.
But look at the young generation. Look at the people that are between 14 and 30 years old right now – no matter which country they are from.
“Can you imagine that the young generation
will accept anything else than
a world with unlimited possibilities?”
Would you be able to imagine that they give up their dreams and and future plans because some other people want to go back to former times? All they learned and experienced so far is being only one click away from the other side of the world… Do you think they will just sit back and accept the fact that they cannot easily go and study or work in another country anymore? I don’t think so…!!!
Maybe this is the very moment that the young generation learns what democracy is in practice and that it only works, if people actually get up and vote for their convictions. The moment to understand that you need to build an own opinion by informing yourself comprehensively instead of just listening to someone you think will have it right. The moment that media and especially social media is looked at critically for the first time and an awareness of the difference between reality and artificial realities built by media arises. The moment that young people don’t just sit and wait until things are presented to them but stand up and become active in building the future they want. Maybe this is the moment that triggers our young people to take over responsibility…
For the first time I trust that the young generation will be able to fix things. In about 10 years from now they will have the heavier vote due to demographics. Maybe this massive shake-up was needed for us to focus again and to make sure we don’t lose sight of our goals. Maybe we need to go through these times in order to experience once again what we don’t want anymore. It will take a period of endurance, but in the end it might be for better than for worse.