A message to Europe's youth: The future is on our side
For a German living in London, last Friday morning wasn't the most pleasant experience. Yet rather than sitting and feeling glum, young people should be seizing on the opportunity to make themselves heard. We shall not despair – we should get active. Opinion piece.
I am not one to be too hopeful. In the weeks leading up to the referendum, I did my best to convince friends to register to vote and present them arguments abour why it was most sensible to vote to remain. I am a German PhD student in London, you see, one of those EU migrants they've been talking about so much in the news lately. I followed the discourse closely and didn't allow myself to be too hopeful. But when the 23rd of June came around, I started thinking that maybe, just maybe, everything would turn out fine. We could work on how best to reform the European Union. I went to sleep, exhausted after a long and stressful day, and for the first time in ages, I slept like a little child, without waking up constantly. I had done everything I could, I thought, and now we would have to wait and see. I thought I would be ready for it, ready for either outcome.
But I was not.
I woke up to a text message at seven in the morning, realising I had already received a bunch before, mostly consisting of sad emojis and/or expletives. I felt numb. And as I turned the computer on, I started to see the consequences of the election: Nigel Farage admitting leave campaigner's lies on TV – not that anyone would really care. Sinn Féin claiming the British government has "forfeited any mandate to represent the economic and political interest of people in Northern Ireland" – frankly, they do have a point. The pound obviously dead. Scotland gearing up for another referendum. And, finally, David Cameron resigning and leaving the country with the utter mess he created. His weak leadership broke up the country, destroyed social cohesion, misled voters and let frustrations grow and thrive, and shook up the biggest peace project the continent has seen since the Romans conquered most of it. And as far as I remember from De Bello Gallico, that wasn’t really about peace. The day felt glum. Everyone I met, everyone I reached out to, was in despair. "Project Fear" had turned into "Project Reality", and the future felt heavy, uncertain, and scary.
But we can’t let this be the end! Take an ice cold shower and listen to me. We shall not despair. We need to understand this as our rallying call. We need to politicise. We need to get active. We need to stop millenial-ing around and actually organise. We EU-kids now need to wisen up and actively fight for what we believe in. We can't risk France leaving the EU as well, or Spain, or Greece. We're generation Easyjet, generation Erasmus. We need to stop clicking on "interested" and signing Avaaz-petitions and actually do something, spread the knowledge, counter the propaganda. We may not exactly know how yet, but I'm sure we will prevail. The enemies of progress may feel overwhelmingly strong right now, but we'll win. The future is on our side.