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That awkward moment when… You do not have the answers

Needless to say I’m not a happiest person in the universe at the moment.

I am a little too disappointed in my country to even want to talk about it. But there is plenty of time for that. After all, despite what many people seem to be assuming the UK has not actually left the EU yet, and the government has put off the act of invoking article 50 to at least October. So plenty of time to stock up with cheap booze on the continent before Christmas I guess.

Seriously though, I’m sure there are some twists to come yet.

Now it is a time for being calm, let negotiations happen and stamp down hard on the racism that appears to be insidiously creeping into some parts of the country. Out of date patriotism I might be able to put up with, I’m not going to put up with hate crime of any sort.

Good people – do not stand by and let bad things happen. It is our responsibility and scary as it may be, we must not shirk it.

What is on my heart this week is the younger generation. I had a really informed, sensible conversation at the weekend with an eleven year old over the referendum result. He was very concerned and wondered what it meant for him, someone who had no say in the matter and will not get that say for some years yet. What struck me was (1) how much more informed he seemed to be than many of the adults in this country I’ve spoken to and (2) how much I wanted to be able to do what adults normally can do when children ask big questions.

By that I mean reassure them, explain to them what will happen as the voice of experience and allow them to get back to worrying about the next set of mock exams, or whether Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston really are now a couple. But in this case I had nothing to say, as I do not know what is going to happen next and what the repercussions will really be for someone who is eleven at the moment. After all, I do not know what the impact is going to be on the Lovely Wife and myself, as someone whose job is mostly centred around Europe.

So I had to admit this. My young friend understood, but I do not think it made him any happier.

But does makes me a little happier is that in the twenty somethings and below have a very different world view to my age group and older, and a more positive attitude towards people of other countries (or indeed to other things that traditionally separate people from the ‘not we’). It is not always the case of course and I am not criticising the old. But I do believe that it is different.

Now I’m not trying to prove a point here – this is only anecdotal based on personal experience/ But thanks to previous youth work and the prolific breeding of friends I have the pleasure of knowing a large number of young people pretty well. And in their different ways they are wonderful bundles of potential and not encumbered by the same kind of baggage that I feel I carry around with me.

It may take some time, but if we can limit the damage and stop the younger generation form becoming disillusioned – a hard task, but one I’m going to focus as much personal effort on as I can – I believe things will get better when they are in control.

To my young friends – please do not prove me wrong on this (as I am on so many other things, it seems). Watch and learn from our mistakes – and successes – you owe a lot to your parents and previous generations and there have been good decisions as well as bad (take advantage of hindsight!). Stand united with each other. I need you to hold each other’s hands through social media and other tools that we now have that can remove the separation and isolation that we might otherwise fall into.

For many years I have worried about the loss of ‘community’ in this country that I remember seeing as a child, and in many places that has indeed gone, and to some detriment. But looking at it a different way there is a growing community of young people that is not based on which country you were born in or what sex you are (and/or think you should be). It is potentially the most beautiful thing, but only if the younger generation can seize its potential and make it a reality.

As for the old fossils like me I am reminded of one of my favourite T shirts that features a cartoon dinosaur shouting

‘Save Yourself Mammal! We will fend off the asteroids!’

I’ll do what I can to help, but some of you need to grab your future and start moulding it into something we can all be proud of.

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