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20th Nov 2016

If you’re angry about what’s happening in the world, stay angry

Don't wind your neck in

Nooruddean Choudry

There has been much said of ‘coming together’ and ‘healing’ recently.

Immediately following Donald Trump’s election victory over Hillary Clinton, we heard a lot of that kind of thing. First there was an immense sense of shock/joy/trauma, quickly followed by a wholesale desire to get back to normal as soon as possible.

The same thing happened in the aftermath of the EU referendum. Much like the US election, the whole exercise had been extremely bruising and bitterly divisive. Numerous prominent voices called for calm, and for the result to be respected.

Some of it was born of hopeful thinking, whilst much was down to a desire to seem magnanimous. Nobody likes a sore loser, and everyone wants a raging argument to end as quickly as possible – especially if it has lasted for over a year.

But here’s the thing. Politics, liberty and basic civil rights do not mirror a game of football. Elections aren’t like blazing rows with your significant other. There’s not a final whistle and no make-up sex. To refer to them in either context is bollocks.

If you are arguing passionately for something before a decision, you will still most likely feel the same afterwards. It’s not like someone flicks a switch and everyone magically agrees on the outcome. The ramifications are serious and affect everyone’s lives.

We give a shit and therefore decide in the framework of a voting system. Whether we’re happy with the outcome or not, we are left with a democratic consensus. But democracy isn’t stop-start – it’s not something that just ends there.

This idea that people who are outwardly saddened and furious at a result are ‘bad losers’ and need to ‘deal with it’ is absolute shite. It isn’t three points or a cup final berth that is at stake – it’s people’s lives. For some, it is a matter of life or death.

Elections and referendums identify a public mandate of sorts, but that mandate is never at the cost of your right to lose your shit about it. And of course the ‘winning’ side have a habit of exaggerating the size and limits of that mandate.

If you truly care, then dousing your anger and muffling your raging voice is not the noble course of action. Very bad things can happen in the immediate aftermath of a national poll. In the cracks between acceptance and renewed fury, awful shit can go down.

Social norms are a funny thing. If enough people do something, and enough people say it’s okay, with not enough arguing it’s not, then that thing becomes accepted and normal very quickly – no matter how horrendous or wrong. See the twentieth century.

Make no mistake – anyone who tells you to ‘wind your neck in’ or ‘get over it’ is essentially telling you to be apathetic. They are demanding that you stop caring for a while. And that while can be enough time for the intolerable to become tolerated.

Sometimes, the only thing that stands in the way of inhumane fuckery and untold horror is focused anger. Not caring opens the door.

If you feel angry, stay angry. Wherever you sit on the political spectrum, you have an absolute right to give an undying fuck about what’s happening around you. Don’t ever put that on hold because some mouthy fucker tells you to.

Of course that doesn’t mean you can’t learn lessons, or even change your mind. If a crisis of conscience or moment of clarity leads you to redefine your point of view, then fair fucks – it takes guts and an open mind to admit that to yourself and others.

But if you care deeply about something, let it be known to any fucker who’ll listen. Fight for what matters to you, and rage against the dying of the light.