What can we do now?

“The title Beyond the Border has never meant so much,” said the director of the festival David Ambrose. These opening words roused a deep heartfelt cheer from the audience, which did not stop, it went on and on, echoing through the Big Top. It was a relief to be together. To celebrate the incredible heritage of stories from Wales, India, Greece, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Native America, Italy, England, France, Finland,  Norway, Germany. Listening and sharing our linked stories was meaningful and healing.

I felt that this audience, who understood why stories were so valuable, might have some ideas about what we should do now. So during one of my performances of Eros and Psyche I asked if anyone would like to meet me in the Rose Garden at 10.00am for a ‘Greek Forum’! We could share thoughts about what had happened, and ideas about what we could do now.

The rose garden St Donat's Castle at Beyond the Border Storytelling Festival
The rose garden, St Donat’s Castle, where Beyond the Border Storytelling Festival takes place.

25 people came. We sat in silence for a moment to the sound of the birds. Then anyone who wanted to, stood up and spoke for a couple of minutes. I wrote down the words that each person said. These are their words. Wise. Generous. Kind. Brave. Inspiring.

I would like to invite all those who spoke to post links to things they do or find helpful. To write little reports on any actions taken. To add links to the organizations that will emerge. To add any comments or thoughts, and report back on the situations where they are. I will do the same. And reader perhaps you have some ideas too that might help? Please add your comments too.

Today ‘The New European’, a pop-up newspaper, was printed. It will be printed for the next 4 Fridays. Buy it. It is a place for serious discussion, reflection,  maybe solidarity, and future action. In today’s edition, journalist Jonathan Freedland says remainers need to ‘work to win back those millions of Britons who, with justification, felt left behind…only if those communities can see a brighter future will they give their blessing to a renewed relationship with Europe’. Thank you to those who met me in the rose garden, your ideas and passion give me hope, and are a starting point on this journey.

I want to learn from what has happened. It is going toward a trench warfare style of debating. Trump style. We need to change the form of debate. To genuinely try to understand the other point of view.
1. We might learn something.
2. If we still don’t agree we can be well informed to create a counter argument.
3. The person feels genuinely listened to and understood, and this might help in itself.

I agree I can see trench warfare too, not actual debate. And so I am left asking – what is democracy. I feel that I don’t believe in democracy any more. I did not see a democratic process going on. How can people get really well informed? Properly informed so that real democracy exists.

There seems to be a way of arguing through personal insults that has dominated the referendum. And these positions get entrenched, people take sides, and believe ‘this belongs to me’. I have been involved in a charity S.H.A.R.P (Swansea Humanitarian Aid Response Project). It tried to bring different people together  to help because there is a need. This helps bridge differences and gets people together to share, to try and work together to do something than can positively help.

Sign the petition asking for a second referendum. Over 4 million people have signed it so far. Perhaps we could try to get more than 16 million signatures on this petition, that would show we don’t want to leave.

As human beings we crave stories, we share stories we buy stories through media, and stories can touch our hearts. This made people vote in a particular way. My village has been divided by people who voted in different ways. We are split. Something is severed. People don’t trust each other any more. We would have been split which ever way the vote went. My field is restorative justice. And I have realised that my village needs restoration. I would like to try and bring the village together to try and see each others’ perspective without judgement.  We have to find a way of living together again, of healing, and of moving into the future together. Perhaps this method of listening and sharing together is something that can be taught  and repeated in communities throughout Britain and might help transform the conflict that is around us.

In our personal lives we must try to combat the rise of racism by letting people know that they are welcome here. Any one you meet,  talk to them, make them feel welcome. Say you want them to be here. If we all did that, each one of us, we might start to combat hatred and abuse.

I am being kept going by an image from a myth, a Native American myth about the world being surrounded by a protecting circle of fire. In this global crisis if each person could light a flame, and all these flames could join together into one unifying circle. Start by lighting your own candle and send out this energy.

100 years ago was the Battle of the Somme. Did people march off knowing what would happen to them and understand the consequences of what they were doing? Had they have known, perhaps they would not have gone? Every consequence of this decision to leave the EU should be noted down and marked. Every single person who is left insecure, every person who is attacked, every person who is forced out must be registered. And people should be asked – did you really want this? Did you think about what the consequnces of  your vote would mean to someone else?

My thoughts are two words – greed and integrity. And the consequences that come out of greed, and the consequences that could come out of integrity. Perhaps we could have some kind of website (button/icon) that calls out when people have lied. Saying ‘oh by the way that wasn’t true’, ‘how is this legal’, ‘how is this possible’. Something that should lift-up integrity, raise up integrity, in personal and public life.

If people knew and understood the consequences they might have voted differently. It is the people in power who have the influence.  Now we have to find a way to have an effect and an influence on them.

I want people to stop blaming the working class for the result of the referendum. Blame the banks instead. They created the current economic crisis that led to the poverty. They are using immigrants and the working class to cover up their actions.

We need to look out to the wider world. All this is happening in a microcosm. This can help us deal with the maelstrom. Look out. Look beyond. There are much bigger things out there. Don’t forget the world around you. The wider world and beyond can help us.

I have seen this from the  point of view of Italy. How the European plan didn’t work out as originally planned. The European plan was to unite people politically and culturally. It is a shock for them. I could see this in the eyes of my dad, he is English, he said he feels betrayed by his own country. Something is broken and it feels as if it cannot be repaired.

We need solidarity now across the broadest possible of political parties. We need to hold to the principles of fairness, equality, decency and respect. We need to engage as individuals and global neighbours, and we all need to try and talk to the people who we disagree with.