A note to my British friends following #Brexit– Now is the time for cooler heads to prevail. Ever since the results of Thursday's referendum were announced I have found myself living in a nation in turmoil. Fear has replaced rationality, panic has overtaken moderation and a sense that "the world as we know it has come to an end" has taken hold. Yet this is exactly the time to remember that crisis can lead to growth; that conflict can lead to change and that disagreement can breed reconciliation.
The proclamations that we are on the verge of World War 3 may become a self-fulfilling prophecy- yet only if frustration is allowed to take hold of the national psyche. As someone who comes from a country that has decided time and again to commit collective suicide on election day, I feel it urgent to remind you all that through blood, toil, tears and sweat your nation can still blossom.
Now is the time for cooler heads to prevail. Now is the time to travel to the north and east and west of the UK and talk to the people who voted for Brexit. The assumption that they are all stupid, or racist or susceptible to slogans rather than reason is just as dangerous to British democracy as UKIP. It is likely that people voted the way they did for a myriad of reasons, all of which require understanding, attention and subsequent action.
Now is also the time for the remarkable generation of young Britons that I have met at Oxford to lead the way forward. Reach out to the people of France and show them where the road of La Penn will lead. Organize conferences in Poland and Hungary where the demagogues have already taken root. Write Op Eds for papers in Holland, and Belgium and Austria strengthening the progressive voices in Europe. Hold virtual town halls with voters in America describing your experiences a moment before they cast their vote for Trump.
Young people can change the world. It has happened before and it can happen again. Let that be the legacy of Brexit rather than Nigel Farage.
Now is the time for cooler heads to prevail. Now is also the time to reach out to the millions of immigrants living amongst you. Those who feel no longer welcome, or wanted, or acceptable. Now is the time to reassure them that there are those in Britain who celebrate diversity rather than fear it, that there are those who love the "other" rather than hate him.
It may also be the time to remember that amidst the hate and violence and terror and mass shootings, we have made awesome advances in recent years. LGBTs can marry in more countries than ever. In Scotland alone LGBTs lead three major political parties. The US and Cuba have established ties. Iran and the US have chosen a path of peace rather than war. And next month, NASA's firs spacecraft will arrive in Jupiter.
We are capable of destroying, but also capable of building.
Now is the time for cooler heads to prevail. Now is also the time to remember that your country has known many challenges in the past that were just as daunting and just as vexing as Brexit. On the same day that the referendum was held (July 28) in 1540, Henry the 8th executed Thomas Cromwell further descending his kingdom into religious and political turmoil. Yet the country survived. On the same day as Brexit in 1809, British soldiers fought a bloody battle against the forces of Louis Napoleon. Once again Europe was divided and at war. Yet the country survived. On the same day of Brexit in 1943, the Royal Air Force held a daring raid against German forces in Hamburg. The UK was on the verge of bankruptcy, its troops tired and weary and its capital in ruins. Yet still the country survived.
Perseverance and hope in the face of adversity are just as British as rainy summers, meat pies and Fawlty Towers.
Alas I have nothing more to offer you than these reassuring words and the promise that all those who wish to fight for a better future can count on me to be their most ardent ally.