The sound of the gnashing of British teeth has reverberated across the globe. Much has been made of Brexit, and rightly so. Indeed, while there is much ado about something, that ‘something’ actually lives below the mud-wrestling veneer, and it wants to be heard.
What is going on in Britain? What is going on in the world? We are confused. Is all of this judgment, alienation, prejudice, anxiety, resignation and aggression “normal”? How did our cornucopia of addictions seamlessly interweave themselves into our lives? Why does our leadership, regardless of party, consistently make decisions that jeopardize the health and well-being of the people? Why is our political system so dysfunctional and out of touch with its citizenry?
The game-changing e-book, by Bard Azima, Brexit: An Invitation to Dig Deeper, Reflections on the Patterned Role of Betrayal, Trauma and Boarding School on British Politics and Culture (you can read the entire piece for free on this very blog), cuts through the din of perpetual and circuitous media and political distraction to make a case for what is really behind both sides of Brexit, and British culture in general, beyond the obvious Depression Era-like income inequality; to provide answers to questions that most of us are not even asking. Regardless, Brexit is merely the most recent vehicle that I'm utilizing to explore past and current British culture; the politics of it being misleadingly provocative and ultimately only of secondary consequence.
At the root of what ails Britain is a centuries-old boarding school culture that is the foundation of a hyper-masculine, left-brained society which has eschewed empathy and community to such a degree that we are in a kind of generational collective shock. Our society is a macrocosm of a boarding culture that unwittingly betrays its children. These abandoned children pay a steep price to protect themselves. They build a wall that cuts them off from their hearts, because to actually feel the betrayal is too much to bear. As the child becomes an adult, the unfeeling wall invariably remains firmly, and unconsciously, in place. Then, they find themselves in leadership positions in all areas of society, including government and business. What else are most of these people going to do but pass on the betrayal to the people in their charge? It’s not on purpose. To their core, it’s what they know. It’s not recognized as betrayal because it is the norm.
After hundreds of years of this privileged mistreatment being handed down to attendee's children and the unprivileged masses, we have a culture governed by systemic betrayal and trauma, which in turn has engendered a chronic pattern of bullying and judgment against anyone we deem vulnerable. We are a wounded, confused and addicted culture that escapes and hides behind our personal and collective walls. We don’t see the wall because we are the wall.
Boarding School Trauma and Boarding School Syndrome are achingly real. Some ex-boarders feel it more keenly than others. For them, neglect and mistreatment never felt right. Now in theirs 30s, 50s and 70s, it's still gnawing at them; involuntarily pulling them, and those around them, under on a regular basis. It's been this way from that very first day - the day of the great betrayal when they were dropped off at boarding school by parents who invariably and genuinely believed that they were doing the right thing. Whether or not betrayal and trauma was already a part of a child's life before they went to boarding school, they become fixtures of life ahead; the building blocks of the wall. Surviving betrayal and trauma, especially as a child, entails normalising it. 'Be a man'. Moving right along. Nothing to see here. Stiff-upper-lip employed at maximum available power at all times. Shame about those who feel more than the rest of us; left to soldier on, they think there is something wrong with them that they are not able to flourish; that they suffer. But doesn't this also describe so many Britons, regardless of whether or not they attended boarding school?
Brexit: An Invitation to Dig Deeper, presents a challenging and unusual perspective for anyone, ex-boarder or otherwise, seeking to better unwrap the boarding experience, and by extension, the British experience. One of the ways in which this piece is unusual is that, to the extent that it succeeds, it approaches the subject from a place of compassion and non-judgment; not just for the sake of being nice (which isn't a bad reason), but because of the recognition that, with our heart connections understandably compromised, we are functioning on systematic, ultra-rational auto-pilot. We don't know that auto-pilot is engaged, and we'd really rather not know because its job is to fly as far away from our personal and collective pain as possible. Compassion and non-judgment because, regardless of our standing in society, we entertain the idea that deep down we are all lovers; knowing that the more callous and dismissive we are to ourselves and others, the deeper our own trauma, the more blinded we are to our own failings.
At some point, though, there is a reckoning. Brexit is one such moment, on a grand scale. There are and will be many others, within and without. The reckoning is scary because auto-pilot keeps disengaging. We keep being forced to take the wheel. In that, there is an opportunity.
By delving into the topics of boarding school, addiction, ridicule, colonialism, party politics, the military, Africa, media and racism; as well as exploring the lives of Boris Johnson, Princess Diana, Tony Blair, JK Rowling, Harry Patch, David Cameron, Winston Churchill, Roald Dahl, The Football Hooligan, Prince Charles, Donald Trump, The British Soldier, Theresa May and the Queen, amongst others, Brexit: An Invitation to Dig Deeper, not only reveals the deep-seated and destructive patterns that govern every aspect of British life, but lays out an evolutionary road-map for how Britons can find the courage to consciously disengage auto-pilot and chart a more humane and productive course.