by Tom Casey, Managing Principal Discussion Partner Collaborative
Coincidentally I was in London the day after the surprise vote in the UK to leave the Economic Union (EEU).
Beyond the shock I observed reminiscent of the Bridge Over The River Kwai-“my God what have I done”, and the rush to exploit the advantages of the Dollar vs. Pound currency valuation, it provided a personal opportunity to observe how folks reassessed their citizenship affiliations.
Clearly the vote to leave the EU represented a societal desire to maximize control of destiny. However for those people who remain in the EU, it also possibly triggered a reflection as to national affiliation.
To put this observation in context I would offer two personal experiences.
Being a US citizen of Irish heritage I like many of my countrymen referred to myself historically as “Irish American” that is until on Dublin’s Grafton street decades ago I was corrected by a client “no you are American Irish, I am Irish.”
Living and traveling as I and many do, in the ensuing decades I noticed a lack of ambiguity in terms of country loyalty independent of the European Union and the number of passports one held, when queried as to “were are you from” there was a crisp answer, “I am-Canadian, Mexican, British, Scottish, Japanese, French, Italian etc.”
Post Brexit in London, I immediately noticed a difference in how non-UK citizens respond to the question of nationality.
On no less than 7 occasions when I was asking or overhearing others posing the question “where are you from”, the response was “I am European from X.”
Clearly a sample size of 7 responses could represent an anomaly and hardly representative of a new way of thinking regarding societal affiliation. However given the dream of Churchill of a “United States of Europe”, and the objective of Roosevelt and later Truman of a platform for United Nations the Brexit vote could have an unintended outcome in that while we are dealing with the consequences of the vote it may have compelled EU member citizens to think of themselves in a dual manner.
If so….maybe the Brexit outcome has a silver lining…buried in the current dark clouds of confusion.