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Britain's Future Rests in the Hands of Its Young

21/06/2016 12:29 | Updated 21 June 2016

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In a matter of days Britain's fate will be decided, and those who have the greatest chance to sway it are its young people. The nation is split along clear demographic lines: Britain's youth are overwhelmingly in favour of staying in the EU; Britain's elderly are overwhelmingly in favour of leaving. Yet since the young are less likely to vote, they must mobilise if they are to prevent their future being decided for them by a generation who will not live to experience many of the changes brought about by it. It requires a true sense of hope to make this possible. The fate of the nation is now entirely in the hands of its voters, and unlike in a general election, every vote counts.

It may appear more difficult to outline a vision of hope for Remain, since superficially it appears to involve retaining the status quo. However with widespread discontent over issues such as TTIP, the prospect of a newly democratised EU are increasing by the day, providing inspiration for those who wish to see a reformed EU, while preserving the organisation's Nobel Prize winning achievement of having helped to bring about the longest period of peace in Europe for centuries.

In a world undergoing vast and deep transformations, from the global to the national level, and the community to the personal, we are forced to face what at times feel like the insurmountable challenges of climate change, inequality, perpetual war, technological automation, and economic instability. Inevitably there are moments when this provokes fear and anxiety, yet problems of this scale can only be solved through mass collaboration, and putting to use the pooled intelligence, wisdom, and creativity of our newly connected world. Those who opt for fragmentation and obscurity, serve to increase rather than solve these problems.

Were there a strong case for leaving the EU it would be visible in the movement's leadership, but Leave's four most prominent campaigners, Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, Iain Duncan Smith, and Michael Gove, are not leaders of popular movements like men and women such as Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, or Malala Yousafzai, rather they represent only a sliver of society, that is old, male, wealthy, and white. This is no coincidence, and those who wishfully expect such people to create favourable and egalitarian outcomes for a diverse and unequal society, will be wishing far into the future. Instead this particular form of leadership thrives on tapping into irrational fears, evoking the scared and threatened animal within us, and channelling people's righteous indignation and sense of injustice into destructive angers, whose only outcome is perpetuating further cycles of divisive and self-defeating behaviour. Never do they attempt to appeal to the civilized, rational, and compassionate human being.

Over the last decades young people have been robbed: they are debtors to a university system which their parents' enjoyed for free; they live in fear of the effects climate change due to the generation before them failing to take it seriously; and they have grown up amid a backdrop of a perpetual war and terrorism, created out of lies and delusions. Though perhaps worst of all is the sense of having lost a hope and belief in the possibility of forging a future which serves and benefits all, not just the few, and the dangerous notion that despair and cynicism could become the normal state of being, or, worse still, be considered virtues.

Yet everything around us which can be called good was hard fought for by our ancestors who dared to dream, and dream big, hoping and wishing for a brighter and better world for them and their children. The future remains undecided, with everything still left to fight for, and in the knowledge that huge changes can occur over days, or even just hours. Leave's leadership has used fear to sell its dark and regressive vision for the future. The only response to this can be ever more powerful messages of hope, unity, and truth, for this is what has inspired and motivated people all over the world and throughout the ages, to take positive political action and make their influence felt. On June 23 history will be made, and if the young are mobilised en masse to vote, they will determine Britain's fate.

HuffPost UK Young Voices is running a month-long focus on the EU Referendum, examining what is at stake for Britain's young people on 23 June and why it's imperative you register to vote and have your say. If you want to have your say and blog on our platform around this topic, email ukblogteam@huffingtonpost.com. Register to vote here.

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