Here’s My Brexit

Goodbye globalizationYou’re going to be reading a lot of articles about the British vote to exit the EU today, or as it is has been called to sound more flashy and less terrifying over the past months, the Brexit. You’re going to read a lot about how the economy is in turmoil, about how Britain has effectively thrown the world into a spiral, or foresight on what is going to happen with other EU member countries now that Britain has chosen to leave. They’re all right, and they’re all valid articles.

This isn’t one of those articles, though.

If this isn’t your first time here, then you know that I’m a Third Culture Kid (TCK). You know that this collection is about the world, about viewing it through the eyes of a TCK, about the beauty of travel and the connectivity of all of us in a rapidly globalizing society. You know that I write here to inspire confidence in fellow TCKs who have not crossed the threshold of their national identity crisis, to show them that in the end, they’ll find peace in knowing they aren’t a citizen of a country, that their lack of patriotism driven by a lack of national identity doesn’t make them weak, but makes them stronger. You know that this collection is, for the most part, full of love where it may fail to achieve inspiration.

This isn’t one of those articles, though.

You see, I’m about to go to bed tonight in my house in America, 4000 miles away from my birth country of England, and when I fall asleep, should I fall asleep, 51.8% of the people in the country I was born in, a country for which I too hold a passport, will be waking up feeling a sense of national pride, while 48.2% will be waking up feeling a sense of national shame. That being said, perhaps the stats of how the vote turned out will not directly reflect the emotions of those reading them when they see the state of the world they created, and I’m sure there will be plenty of articles covering exactly that.

This isn’t one of those articles, though.

This article is about what my birth country did to me today. It’s personal, but then, it’s also so much more than that. It’s international, is touches everyone, even those who will not share my pain or even understand my words, because today, I was robbed of something I have taken for granted for so many years; today my birth country stripped me of my passport to a significant chunk of the world, and it did so out of ignorance of economics, ignorance of international relations, and ignorance of globalization of the people of the world.

Today, England decided to go against everything the first world has been striving to achieve for the entire course of my 29 year life. It decided that walls were better built than torn down, that separation from a global market was better than working alongside it, and it decided that free transfer of persons across its boarders, in or out, was not the way of tomorrow.

You see, I hold a UK passport. And as a TCK, what happened today is devastating. Today marks the day that will begin the breaking of my access to the EU, that free trade of my person into any country of theirs, to live and work and contribute to the economy of culture and capital. Today, the country of my birth, the country I had so much pride in as a man of international identity because of its commitment to an open, expansive, globalized society that tore down walls and showed the world a new way to be better than the boarders we have chosen to imagine and the patriotism we hide behind, decided that the real path to our future lies in isolation.

Today, England built a wall around its society. And in doing so, it didn’t just steal access to the world from me, it stole the very idea of a world without boarders from everyone. And it did so with cheering crowds.

As an man of no national identity, as a man of the world, no as a child of the world, as a Third Culture Kid, I can think of no greater tragedy to the forward motion of internationalism and globalization to date than what Britain just did with roaring crowds and celebrations.

Today, for the first time in my life, I am ashamed to hold a passport to the United Kingdom.

Today, for the first time in my life, the country of my birth betrayed me by betraying the world.

And so here’s my Brexit: Goodbye, England. I can no longer call you “home,” whatever lack of a meaning that has for this wandering TCK, because no home of mine would sit behind a closed border watching globalization fail to thunderous applause.



Author of TCK LifePost by: James R. Mitchener

4 thoughts on “Here’s My Brexit

  1. Ellen

    Oh my goodness! I am so overwhelmed with confusion. Although I don’t hold a British passport, my children do. Sadly, for their entire lives I have fought for them to retain my nationality (Dutch) as I have always believed that the Britsh would eventually leave. The Britsh have never whole heartedly been committed to Europe. I am so sad that I am right. I believe in open borders, easy travel and breaking down of walls, as you put it. Like you I am a TCK as are my children. I am also in a mixed marriage. Differences within our extended family are embraced. Our family spans across the ocean, we are scattered across the world, but close in heart. I feel we are what the world should be. This is a huge blow and will inevitably hurt everyone on every level.
    I feel anger and mourning.

  2. Jonathan

    Thank you for putting into words almost exactly the sort of things that I have been thinking. I’m from Scotland, of Irish descent, live and work in Wales, my wife is from England, and spend my working life as a lecturer in French. I’ve always been proud to be European and never seen that as being incompatible with being British, Scottish, Welsh, Irish or English. It’s a shame that the outcome of yesterday’s vote seems to reflect a collective decision not to acknowledge the possibility of being several things at once, something that is very much part of the sort of third culture kid experience you’ve described so well here.

  3. Susan Issolah

    It’s a beautiful epitaph, however I feel you’ve been precipitous. We have decided to leave, but are holding off leaving immediately. There will be a new Prime Minister and as a result, possibly a new election. I believe we have done quite well in being, on the whole, open and fair to who ever has landed on our shores. I see this as knee jerk reaction and believe that if we see our country being insular and inward looking, that our appetite for not being part of the EU will diminish and our character of openness will shine through and take action.

    In the meantime, I take heart that for once so many people an took active part in politics. I also feel lucky to live in a society where we can access our democratic rights. So we shouldn’t give up when it doesn’t go our way, but ensure that we listen, read, follow and vote!


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