I always took the EU for granted. I took the political stability for granted, I took the travels for granted, the invisible borders, I took the cultural exchange for granted, the festivals, the food, the music, I took the internships in Brussels for granted, I took the relative peace for granted, I took the freedom that spanned way over borders for granted. At 23, I cannot imagine a future without the EU, as bureaucratic and slow it might sometimes appear, because it’s all I know.

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When chatting to friends about the #EURef last night, nobody thought an actual Brexit could be on the cards. I went to bed believing it would be a close call, but not for a second doubting that Europe would stay united in this. There is, or was, this built-in faith in humanity that made me believe the good will ultimately win and that people will make the right decisions when it really counts. I’m aware it’s patronising to speak about right and wrong in 2016, because what is that even? Well, I’ve never been so sure about right and wrong as in this very moment. Yesterday, 52 percent of UK citizens voted to leave the EU and completely wreck what their ancestors have fought for and built over decades. The other 48 percent didn’t, yet all of them will feel the consequences of a vote that should never have happened in the first place. Still, that’s democracy. This time though, democracy seems so terribly, terribly absurd that my phone has been buzzing with constant “What on earth is happening” messages for the last four hours. Thing is: We don’t know. We don’t know what the consequences will be, the British Pound has completely crashed, Prime Minister David Cameron announced he will step down, all within a few hours.

Do you even know what you did here? There was never a Plan B, there were only statements and ridiculous campaigns based on everything except facts. The lack of any plan (and people’s endorsement of it) will go down in history which would be funny if it wasn’t just so sad.

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I’m guessing in the following days, there will be a lot of talk about people’s fears, as if all of Europe has suddenly turned into a weak continent where fear dominates over reason: To me, “fear” seems like a very easy way out, like the cheapest excuses of them all that brings up more questions than answers. There is nothing wrong about asking questions or being skeptical about migration and the responsibility each EU member state should or shouldn’t take, about British values and the efficiency of the EU – as long as you still use your brain and choose real arguments over wishy-washy statements and seem plausible in these “scary times”.

The numbers clearly indicate the majority of Brexit voters (at least in England and Wales) were 50+, yet somehow seem to have forgotten about the amount of stability the EU brought about (the longest period of peace in the whole continent, that is), and about the devastating effect of years and years of war and destruction. They also, and this strikes me as incredible, don’t seem to give a single damn about their children’s and grandchildren’s future who generally voted Remain (64%).

The thing is, their vote, their anger, their “fear” doesn’t just affect the UK, this doesn’t just affect a few boarder guards, airport or stock markets. Their tick affects all of Europe because its second-largest economy just publicly declared it lost faith in the European idea. That is the worst signal and the worst possible timing. Who will follow next? Is this the beginning of the end? The idea of single nations isolated by borders is ancient, the idea that one is stronger than many is obsolete. Ensuring your borders are now fully British again won’t magically make your High Streets suddenly flourish, it won’t solve the refugee crisis and it won’t get rid of the huge divide within the population.

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I met friends for life during my university degree in what still is Europe’s most vibrant and buzzing city: London. People I wouldn’t have met without the EU, road trips to the Isle of Wight, to Edinburgh or to Brighton that I couldn’t have taken that easily.

My Grandma is always stunned about how “easy” it is to jump on a flight to Spain, the UK or Sweden and the amazement has never worn off however many postcards or e-mails I sent her of the years. But I don’t know it any other way. My friends may be spread across the continent but we share one thing: We believe in community. We believe in the power of doing this thing together, and right now maybe even of being in this shit together.

This world seems to be in a very fragile state (I’m talking about Donald Trump here) and recently, I’ve thought a lot about how I can’t actually imagine raising kids in a world where so little makes sense, where so little is about what I thought are universal values like acceptance, grace, love, trust and a little faith that miracles might not happen overnight, but they will eventually. Who would quit in a climate like this? The Brexit vote is an absolute act of cowardice, it’s endorsing two politicians who were never interested in the common good or real progress.

And when the angry texts and the helpless messages from my UK friends will all have been sent, I’ll be sad and disappointed on a very simple, human level. I’ll be sad that more than 50% of a population refused to stick through a hard time while having no idea what the consequences and signals to other states will be. But you know what? After that, and maybe it will take a few days, I will get back on my feet again to stand up for the Europe that might not always get the love and buzz it deserves, the Europe that my Grandma is too old to fully experience, the Europe that helps people in need instead of sending them back, the only Europe that I’ve always known and the only Europe I want to see my kids grow up in.

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