I Am Not My Country

I’m still in Denmark, for one more day. Since I met Emma in 2016, we’ve been coming over to visit her family about twice every year. And ever since the first time, which was days after the Brexit referendum, the Danes have been asking me, “Hey, Oliver, what the hell is going on with you guys?”

I tell them I don’t know. I tell them I voted to remain. I tell them it gets more and more embarrassing to call myself British every day, because of what people – who I’d hesitate to rescue from a burning building – have done to that word.

Most of all, I make damn sure they know the circumstances under which that referendum was held. And I make sure that they know the British people were not stupid, nor ignorant, but misled. Lied to. Made to hate the EU for things it hadn’t done. Promised untold future prosperity. Used as pawns in a game to keep the Conservative party together. I tell them that the British people became, on June 23rd 2016, turkeys voting for Christmas.

It hasn’t felt good to be British for a long time. But that’s okay, because, fortunately, I am not my country.

I am not my country. I am a consciousness inhabiting the body of a great ape, that just happened, by sheer chance, to be born on a particular bit of land. And that particular bit of land was – at that particular moment in world history – Britain. So if I’m brain-dead enough to let that accident define me, if I let the country of my birth dictate who I am and what I do with my life, well then I deserve to be shat upon by Etonians and Murdochs, quite frankly.

But as it happens, I am not my country, and that means that nothing the Brexiters do can touch me where it counts. They can screw up the country. They can turn people against each other. They can embarrass themselves on the world stage. But they cannot stop me trying to be a good person. They cannot stop me from seeking the truth. They cannot stop me trying to make the world a more beautiful place. Oh, they can try. But they will not succeed. Because I am not one of their suckers, and there are a million things I would more readily defend than their idea of “Britain.”

The truth is that you don’t get to choose where you’re born. But nobody is born a blind nationalist. That is always a choice, and of all the choices you could make, it’s a remarkably stupid choice. And if it’s the choice you make, then good luck to you – you deserve every single shitty consequence of that choice.

I am not my country. And thank God for that.

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