‘I live in a hostile environment’.
Over the last year, many EU citizens in the UK have said that. So many times.
Harassment? Bullying? Legal uncertainty? Lack of empathy?
Being made into the ‘other’, being publicly vilified, demonized? Encountering obstacle after obstacle, so that life becomes a misery?
Like many other EU citizens, I have encountered all these.
But until a few days ago I thought that maybe it was just a personal perception.
Maybe it’s just because I’m not strong enough. Maybe it’s it because I can’t cope? Do I see a conspiracy where there is only an accidental collision of events? Are the nasty people, the acts of discrimination just unfortunate side effects?
Or do I perceive this all as ‘catastrophic’ because of my history as the survivor of a very difficult childhood? I’ve worked all my life on getting rid of what therapists call my faulty perception, the perception that the world is a hostile environment, because my childhood world was.
So am I sliding back in my recovery, perhaps through the reawakened anxiety that comes from not knowing my fate and future? Can London, the place I loved and felt at home in, really have become a hostile environment for the likes of me?
But a few days ago I had a brutal eye opener.
I am shocked.
Because the answer, in short is yes. It’s not my individual perception.
The hostile environment is real.
It is no accident. It was deliberately created by the UK government. The evidence is there, out in the open. They are in fact quite proud of it.
The EU citizen experience after the Brexit referendum has been an eye opener. A whole series of eye openers, in fact. Eye openers like bottle openers, sharp and painful. Leaving ragged wounds. Injuries that won’t heal.
But a few days ago, following various frightening twitter threads, I stumbled upon an article that suddenly explained the source of a lot of our suffering, the hostile environment. Or, rather, the Hostile Environment — because that’s its official government name.
To be honest, this is more than an eye opener. It’s like eye surgery with a bread knife that pierces the nerve right into the brain. Making my vision sharper, but my heart very heavy.
Here it is, the knife sharp moment:
‘I live in a hostile environment’. Over the last year, many EU citizens in the UK have said that. So many times. Harassment? Bullying? Legal uncertainty? Lack of empathy? Being made into the ‘other’, being publicly vilified, demonized? Encountering obstacle after obstacle, so that life becomes a misery? Like many other EU citizens, I have […] Continue reading
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In seven years of working on the graveyard shift at the Most Successful Bank in the Universe, what I saw was pretty shocking. Bankers, says the current iconography, are greedy, amoral money grabbers. I, too, once subscribed to that innocent belief. But the bankers I met during seven years of working on the graveyard shift […] Continue reading