This weekend I’ve been at Avebury, site of Europe’s largest stone circle and various other Neolithic goings-on, on an anniversary getaway we’d booked before we knew that our politics would be imploding around us. Spending 24 hours near these amazing standing stones, I started to think about two things:
1. These things have been here for 5,000 years. They’ve seen a lot. It must have seemed like the world was ending a lot of times in those 5,000 years. And they’re still here.
2. These things took generations to build. The people who started didn’t have very sophisticated tools to hand, they didn’t even necessarily know what the finished thing was going to look like. But they started, and they built something that has endured for millennia.
Not sure what metaphor I’m reaching for here, but basically I think what’s happening now is big, deep, potentially epoch defining. It’s not going to be fixed overnight, whether by a second referendum or by ousting Corbyn. What we do next has to come from a place of reflection, patience, collaboration – it has to be intentional and strategic, not a knee jerk desire to be doing something, to recover some of the sense of agency we’ve just lost and to feel like the world makes sense again.
Having succumbed to this tendency myself after the general election, I’m all too aware of it happening to those around me right now, and I think it’s something we need to be wary of. It can manifest in weaving comfortable stories that allow us to carry on believing all the things we thought we knew; or in throwing ourselves into campaigns or projects based more on our own emotional needs than a sober assessment of their strategic value.
At times like these, the first thing we need to do is breathe. If you’ve been immersing yourself in Facebook reaction and TV news since Thursday, maybe take a 24-hour break from politics; get some sleep; go for a walk; give your brain a bit of space before deciding how to act. Because what we do next really matters – so let’s try and get it right.