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Brexit: An opportunity for host leadership

brexit hand-holding-brexit-sign-eu-referendumWell, what a week it’s been with the UK voting narrowly for Brexit following a confused and heated campaign generating more heat that light from both sides.  So many things have changed at a stroke – aspects of live which were formerly assumptions have been brought to uncertainty, taken-for-granted freedoms like the right to love and work anywhere in the EU are in question.  Sadly, racist attacks are reported to have increased by 500% since the vote.  As I write this on Friday 1 July both main UK political parties are having leadership crises, the winning Leave campaign has no plan, and the only British politician coming out of it with any credit is Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon.

Nicola Sturgeon seems to me to be showing excellent host leader qualities. She knows which direction she wants to go (Initiator role).  She has reached out to others in the EU and gained important meetings and conversations (Connector role).  And above all she is stepping forward with confidence at a time when most other British politicians are acting like rabbits in headlights, knifing each other in the back and generating huge uncertainty. Acting confidently – even when you don’t know what’s going to happen – inspired confidence in your ‘guests’ and followers.

It has been said that the result of the Brexit vote came as a shock to both sides, and may even be generating a mental health crisis as people have their realities rocked.  What can we do at this time?  It seems to me that wherever we are in the UK or in the wider world, this is a moment for small acts of kindness and reaching out to others in ways great and small.  This excellent list arrived in my inbox from Sunday Assembly founder Sanderson Jones. Sunday Assembly is a network of secular congregations that meet to celebrate life, and this list could be used by anyone – of any faith or no faith – in the days ahead.

  1. Smile at someone in the street. They probably want to know they’re in a world of love and kindness.
  2. Don’t hate people who have different opinions. They’re just humans who want the best in a complicated world.
  3. Create connections outside of your tribe. Tribalism enflamed the passions we’re feeling now.
  4. Hearing people that agree with you is great but more important to listen to those that don’t.
  5. Remainers, if you’re feeling pain after the vote, remember this is the pain that many of the Leavers felt before.
  6. Leavers, the result has shocked a lot of Remainers, don’t kick them when they’re down (and out).
  7. If there’s going to be a ‘culture war’ it is better to find peaceful solutions than to take up arms.
  8. Be grateful: you live in one of the richest, most peaceful, most advanced countries the world has ever known. 
  9. Be positive: we got through two World Wars, the Suez Crisis and losing Eurovision. We will get through this too.
  10. Sure, get politically active but you can be apolitically active too. The new knitting group can be more powerful than the sword.
  11. Find spaces where you can be with difference, live with difference and listen to difference without judging. #JudgyMcJudgeFace
  12. In every borough, county and street in the country there are people who disagreed with you. Make their world better however you can.
  13. Come up with a new cultural, social and economic vision for Britain that everyone can get behind (this last one’s a biggie).

And for those of a more activist bent, Host author Mark McKergow has started a campaign and website at http://projectfarce.uk.  He is asking questions, looking for answers, holding people to account and trying to find ways forward in the emerging confusion.  Please check it out and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/projectfarceuk.

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