I awoke on the 24th June in the city of Gavle, at the Northern end of the East coast of Sweden to a sense of doom. My country had just taken the first steps toward distancing itself from the country and culture i have been experiencing for the past two weeks, as well as a futher five countries we are about to travel through on a journey back to a home i am no longer certain i wish to return to. It will turn it’s back on the many cultures and people i have been to see and encounter over the years, from the middle of Spain to the North of Italy and try to make it on her own.
Every culture is different and it is this difference that we should embrace, should learn from and indulge in. The Friday in question was a wonderful example and the closest thing Swedes have to a national day: Midsommer. After a short session climbing at the local crage Troje, myself and Emily had the great fortune to witness and partticipate in a traditional and normal Swedish Midsommer, with pickled herring, Swedish meatballs and various other delicacies.
We played traditional Swedish games, laughed among natives cursing at a mis-placed shot, had a quiz with a very Swedish theme. Our hosts pulled out all the stops to show us the way of their world so we could see and experience it for ourselves. And now my people are saying that we aren’t interested any more. That our way is good enough for us. That you can keep your “foreign” ways and we’ll keep to our obstinate little island all to ourselves. Or that is certainly how it feels.
I love my country. I feel the Great of Britain is mighty but 24 hours after reading the news i was still scared; scared of what the future has in store. Political and economic uncertainty are assured and it played on my mind long after this, not aided by a long drive on Saturday from Gavle to Goteborg, where we now find ourselves. Emily has a small stomach upset and i’ve asked Fredrik (who used to live here) about the local healthcare system. I fear soon, if the system continues in this method, that will not be an option.
The vote was almost exactly split, meaning for every vote to leave, there was one to remain, with a few exceptions totalling around 4% or around 1.2 million people. That’s slightly more than the population of Birmingham. But of course that is not how it comes across. “The people have spoken!” is the cry being touted. Yet my voice was not heard, the losing side and the statistics being ignored. I now find myself having to apologise for my people, while Euopeans look at us bewildered. I find myself being ashamed to be British – not easy away from her sheltered shores.
The weather seems to have matched my mood, although i am fully aware this is pure coincidence. Nevertheless, thunder storms to the West as we drove here and a turbulent wind twirling the world around in circles as we sit on a campsite in Goteborg. We have two nights here before heading South again and into Denmark again.
As time ticks on, the worries ease and the possibility that maybe it is not all bad. But i do fear the experiences such as these may have a time limit – two years from what i read. Two short years to make the most of this while we can. And perhaps that will not be the end, perhaps an accord can be reached where we can maintain the ability to learn from our neighbours and maintain peace throughout the continent. I can only hope.
This week, we will travel past Brussels. It’s tempting to stop on the way past and point out that yes, the people of Britain have spoken but by no means have they agreed. Please do not cast us aside to drift off into the sea. For we are all still people, people who make mistakes or misguided decisions. Half of our populous understand the value of the union. Please do not leave us at the mercy of those who do not.