There’s a famous Rudyard Kipling poem.
“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same…”
You’d have to be hiding under a rather large pile of rocks to have missed the news that the UK has voted
overwhelmingly by the tightest of margins to split from the EU, in a saga which has divided families, friendship groups and workplaces across the country. Not to mention political parties.
(Bear with me, we’ll get to The Arsenal in a bit)
Some of us awoke to triumph this morning, others to disaster, but one thing seems clear: in this instance we are simply unable to treat them just the same.
Among Leave voters there are emotions ranging from smugness and glee to contained happiness. Meanwhile there has been a huge outpouring of anger, dismay and despair across those backing Remain, particularly in light of Nigel Farage’s admission that there won’t be £350m-a-week savings to invest in the National Health Service after all.
Some are questioning the side they voted for.
Sadly this division is a feeling Arsenal fans the world over are already far too familiar with.
I saw a tweet today which suggested the correlation between AKB and Remain / WOB and Leave were probably pretty strong, and while that’s a sizeable jump, it did get me thinking about the similarities between the Brexit fallout and the divisions in our fanbase.
In fact, they’re pretty uncanny. Let’s take a closer look.
(See, told you we’d get on to The Arsenal)
Zero shades of grey
In both circumstances there are two opposing sides, convinced that they are right, with no room for grey area or middle ground.
Apparently it is not possible to think Arsene Wenger should stay as manager but note his flaws and hope they are addressed. In exactly the same way it is apparently not allowed to want to stay in the EU but reform it from within.
Likewise, it is not an option to say that you are in favour of the status quo until you see a strong enough argument why change will have the desired effect, whether that’s a change in manager or a change in sovereignty.
The problem with both is that it assumes there is a perfect answer, and some measure of certainty that the proposal will deliver the results.
Another similarity is the high profile opinionated supporters, who will sometimes say things for effect rather than substance.
Boris Johnson once described his spell as a journalist in Brussels in the 1990s as: “Everything I wrote from Brussels, I found was sort of chucking these rocks over the garden wall and I listened to this amazing crash from the greenhouse next door over.”
Sound familiar? It’s pretty much exactly what Piers Morgan does when it comes to all things Arsenal – spouting nonsense to provoke a reaction.
Throw Nigel Farage into the mix, declaring ‘Independence Day’ and you can’t help but feel you’ll get a glimpse of what some of our more anti-Arsene supporters might do when the inevitable does happen.
Posters, flag and placards supporting each of the Brexit camps have appeared over the last few months across the country, but more recently they’ve been defaced and vandalised as tensions ratchet up.
To Arsenal fans, it’s remarkably reminiscent of the bannerwars which overshadowed on pitch performances towards the end of last season.
Both sides of both campaigns have taken their view as the black and white truth, but in the grown up world this ignores the reality: there exist shades of grey.
It seems we have lost the ability to debate rationally.
This means we adopt a stance at the outset and stick to it in every scenario and no matter the evidence, often selecting and manipulating that evidence to support our view. We fail to collate all the relevant information, from a variety of angles, to then analyse and come to a conclusion.
Perhaps we would be better served by going back to school, and applying the exam mentality that there is a right answer which we need to find, forcing us to review the full information and critically analyse the balance.
We may still come to the same conclusion, but it would be arrived at in a far more considered and defensible manner.
Overall, there’s a major difference between the two issues at hand though: the Leave campaign was successful in a way that – so far – the anti-Arsene movement hasn’t achieved.
If there’s one lesson we take from this week’s events, perhaps it’s a case of be careful what you wish for.
One to remember come August, perhaps.