(Editor’s note: More than 100,000 people in 130 countries around the world have read Nina Avramovic-Trninic’s post “Dear Brits: This is what it’s like to be a non-EU citizen.”)
As some of you readers know, I’ve written a few opinion pieces for Dispatches Europe since 2016 about current topics in politics. The most read – and most reacted to – by far was “Dear Brits.”
When I wrote it, I had no idea it would cause such a strong reaction on both sides – among pro-Brexit Brits, and those opposed to the United Kingdom leaving the European Union.
It was simply my opinion – my experience – written as if I told it to my friend. No “deep” phrases or words, no statistics, comparisons and so on.
Just me. BUT “just me” is a typical European.
Political analysts, commentators, professional journalists … they are educated to do this business and that inevitably influences the tone of their articles making them somewhat formal. These topics are not formal, they are very personal and very passionate, to be honest.
The response was overwhelming and though much of it was kind and good, there were also threats, name calling, comparisons, etc. Many of them said, “You come from a shitty country; something like that could NEVER happen to GREAT Britain” – to paraphrase.
My editor Terry Boyd told me to stay calm, not to react, not to reply, not to ….
But Terry is a veteran journalist, and he was very tactical about this. And so I listened to him. I was very pregnant then. Taking care of a newborn and a two-year-old, the politics seemed like a far, far universe of its own.
Well, just tonight, during mommy’s “me time” I stumbled upon some comments and guess what …
HERE IS MY REPLY:
I have been hearing how “things are not as they used to be, and it is so, so hard.” It is called change. Change is good. Change is nature’s way of selecting the fittest to survive. Change is inevitable. I am 34 years old and sick and tired of listening how good it used to be before.
Before the Great Recession.
You know what? My generation knows ONLY recession, so stop bragging about how good it used to be (for you).
And now, well into change happening (whether you like it or not), the whole of Europe is moving in one direction … but Great Britain is not.
Austria had a presidential election and the right wing candidate lost. Left wing, pro-EU candidate Alexander Van der Bellen won. TWICE.
You will say “Yes, but Austria is a small country. That does not matter.” You know who else is a small country? Switzerland!
- The election in the Netherlands? Anti-EU Geert Wilder lost. Pro-EU Mark Rutte won. But the Netherlands is not a significant country in the world’s politics? Think again: It has the world’s largest port outside East Asia; AMAZING infrastructure; world’s second-largest exporter of food and agricultural products; the third country in the world to have an elected parliament, not to mention their artists, startups, inventors and so on.
- The French presidential election? Marine Le Pen lost BIG TIME, with Emmanuel Macron winning 66 percent of the vote to Le Pen’s 34 percent. But the French are so eccentric and unpredictable? Yeah, that did not stop them from ruling half of the world for centuries.
- Upcoming elections in Germany scheduled for September 2017? You might say Angela Merkel will lose; that she is this or that. But the fact is, that lady is a force of nature who shall win. Bet your money on it!
- You know who is moving in the same direction as you? The USA. President Trump had the best time ever meeting Theresa May. Really? Is Trump someone who you wish to be friends with? I have many, many American friends who are terrified that Trump became the President (yes, I do tend to hang out with Democrats). But this one really Republican friend who says he is moderate, but is a hardcore Republican (respectfully), always says “Give Trump a chance. Maybe he is not so bad.” No, Garry, he IS so bad. If he acts like crap, smells like crap, and feels like crap, you do not have to “give him a chance” to be sure he IS crap. So do you really want to be buddies with crappy Trump?
After I read many comments and email responses to my “Dear Brits” I want to thank you all.
First I had a little fun with the negative ones: Hi Francis!
It’s one thing to have a differing opinion. But I draw the line at being insulted by someone who can’t use his native language as well as I do. Is Francis the typical Brexit supporter?
Then I was thankful for those who disagreed but were very civilized about it. Hi, Tom ?
And last but not least, I chose to forget about Terry’s advice and I replied to all of you.
I know Bosnia is not Great Britain. That is not a guarantee for anything.
You cannot hold on to that. It does not guarantee you higher wages, better education or a better quality of life. What I wrote about being disappointed wasn’t because I adore the EU. It is not because I think hundreds of clerks, politicians and useless people should get paid insane amounts of money for sitting in Brussels.
I did not write it because I like or dislike Nigel Farage. Be certain his lifestyle is – and shall be – great in or out of the EU. (Don’t forget to ask him why he is “no commenting” his visits to German consulate and his possible application for German citizenship.)
I did not write it because one day I was bored and wanted to offend you/piss you off.
I wrote it because I believed in unity.
I believed in all of us trying to pull our weight forward. Together.
I believed in you being smart and calling out your politicians on their duty instead of letting them picture the EU as a scapegoat, as an enemy.
I believed in YOU. In us.
Many of us average Europeans did hold our politicians accountable, but you chose not to try.
So, so long Great Britain. Enjoy being governed by someone you did not choose. (Hi, Theresa May.)
And for all the haters planning on posting an insulting, negative comment: HERE. Invest 3:12 minutes of your life and maybe win a pie!