It is 5:30am here in rural Pennsylvania. There are 400 people in these fields, all silently sleeping, dreaming peacefully, but you wouldn’t know it. It’s absolutely still. I feel the morning mist hang on my pyjamas. The wet grass sticks between my toes. I sit in total tranquility, admiring summer camp in this parallel universe.
I contemplate my aloneness as the first light breaks. I am floating. Miles and miles from home. From a home that I don’t associate with anymore. But for the first time in many years, I wish more than anything that I could be there. To share this pain and devastation and confusion with those who also feel it. To sit quietly together, and heal these wounds in the presence of loved ones. To be able to grieve, collectively.
I have been awake all night, reading the news as it pours in. It is June 24th, 2016. This day will be printed in the history textbooks that my children will read. Today the British people turned their back on the European Union, and embarked on a new era of separateness. I swallow the sense of shame and inherent responsibility I feel, but I know that I cannot carry the weight of our entire nation on my shoulders.
I watch my identity float in front of me as a cloud of dust, forming shapes in the breeze. What small first steps can I take this morning? In what direction shall I walk? It is difficult for me to try and comprehend the concept of isolationism. I spend my whole life breaking down the borders of self. Of myself. I break down the borders of my mind and my heart. I cross geographical borders, and each day my circle grows. The family I belong to expands. Each day I am closer to understanding my nationality as human, my religion as love, and my politics of freedom.
I feel powerless. I am the Brit that ran away. The one that turned her back on the issues of her own country, of her people. I ask myself what my obligation is. There is nothing more that I can do, politically. We have no more soul-searching to do as a nation, we have soul-searching to do as individuals.
We are individuals who are afraid for ourselves. We are afraid for our families and our loved ones. We are afraid that our voices will not be heard. We are afraid that we do not matter. We are afraid that we are being cheated by a system that we don’t understand, and that we do not belong to. But this is not how we will heal this broken society. We cannot fix fear with fear.
So instead, I will take your fear and I will shower it with love.
I will listen. I will hear your stories. I will hear your fears, and your suffering. I will dream with you, whoever you may be. I will forgive you. I will welcome you into my home. And I will share with you everything that I have.
I may be thousands of miles away from my fellow people, but geography does not change our humanity. Nor does race, religion, nationality, sexuality. We all have the same capacity to fear. And we all have the same capacity to heal each other’s fear with love.
This is the path I choose.