Tolerance begins at home

It is easy to be angry and to blame it on racism. It is easy to say that you don’t understand and be shocked by the result. It is easy to remove those people who don’t agree with you from your feeds. However, this is exactly what the supporters of the winning campaign chose. They chose to be divisive, to split you by fear and to stop you from talking to each other. Don’t let them have the power.

I have been saddened by the amount of hatred and bile that has been spouted as the UK chose to leave the European Union. The irony that many of those have spoken about inclusion and tolerance when asking people to vote, now choose to use the most vicious language for those that went out and voted last night. They have an opinion. We lost. But there is something to build from.

Our social feeds serve as an echo chamber for our own views and opinions. If everyone on your feed is filled with #Remain, then of course you are going to be shocked when it goes the other way. We actively choose to block out, ridicule, ignore and chastise those that don’t agree with us. It doesn’t make sense. As much as it is difficult and frustrating, we should be choosing to listen to what this small majority think about the country that they are living in.

Many of us have been lucky enough to enjoy the benefits of the Union. Multicultural universities, the ability to move freely and the opportunity to associate with many people of different cultures. However, there are many that have been let down. I can understand the individuals that are jealous or bitter about the state of affairs – that are struggling to make ends meet and cannot understand why we enjoy the prosperity that they don’t. I am not saying that it is right or just, but it exists and this is a trident call that we need to listen.

The “us” and “them” culture has been created by us and not Boris Johnson or Nigel Farage. They have fed off our own laziness to interact with each other. It is easy to galvanise a people that don’t feel listened to. That feel abandoned. We may have welcomed many and advocated tolerance through our borders, but this result clearly shows that we have not learned this lesson in our own streets. We have forgotten to educate, to listen, to empathise and to work with ourselves.

Immigration is a fantastic thing, but there are millions that have slipped through the net of our system that we have failed to notice. Investment and financial stability are paramount to success, but we need to empower other industries and break down the glass ceilings that exist in the cities. Prosperity and multiculturalism are powerful tonics that we have been lucky enough to consume, but we must remember that there are many who have never been given the opportunity.

This is a wake-up call. It is a not a beacon of hatred or intolerance. It is the biggest internal conflict that we have faced in a generation. If we truly wanted to remain, then we must be the ones to make an effort to listen to those that didn’t. If we promote inclusion and tolerance, then this is our opportunity to shape the outcome to reflect this. Isolation and divisiveness may have permeated the campaign, it may have helped to win votes, but it does not have to be a part of the conclusion. If we open our arms as a country to those that feel isolated, that needed to be selfish yesterday, that felt lost and wanted to protect themselves, then that is the only way that we can make use of our votes.

Making a stand isn’t about putting a cross in a box. It isn’t about making a Facebook status. The vote in itself is symbolic – now the only thing we can control is the depth of our actions. Nothing will change immediately, but the tide is slowly turning towards a potentially sinister path. Let’s see it as a challenge to bring a country divided back together.

Tolerance starts at home. And God knows, don’t we all need a bit of love right now?

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