Why should we worry over Brexit? says the Millennial pouring me that good diner coffee.
Because Britain leaving the European Union has got the French talking exit, too, plus the Swedes and Italians, I say. The whole EU could collapse and then where would we all be?
Where do you think? she says.
The economic impact! I say. The hit on world trade, jobs, free movement of people, global security, all that.
You don’t think the Brits, the Europeans and the U.S.A. can figure how to put all that back on track pretty quickly?
Well, sure, we’ll have to. But it will be chaos until then.
Is that all, a little more chaos? she says, giving me that piteous glance Millennials reserve for boomers. What’s this presidential election but chaos? Police killing black people on the streets? Loonies with automatic rifles shooting up dance clubs? We live in chaos. We’ll get through Brexit just fine.
Do I believe my ears? I cry. Millennials all over Britain are terrified of what comes next but you don’t care?
Oh, I care, she says. But I want something fresh and new in my world, not more of what we got from you boomers. Brexit could open the world to something good.
Mandi down the counter, soaking a donut in her coffee, says to me, You need to listen to those younger and wiser than you are, old man.
But she’s talking crazy, I say. The risks are huge, my retirement fund already took a big hit…
It’ll pass, says Mandi, when all those talking heads on TV get bored with Brexit and move onto something else to get frantic about.
Why do you boomers always blame the talking heads, says the Millennial, when there’s something so much bigger here?
What’s bigger? say Mandi and I together.
Democracy, says the Millennial.
Did I just hear a Millennial say something sensible? I say, stunned.
My generation is not entirely ignorant, she says. Some of us can see the EU is not just un-democratic but in too many ways anti-democratic. What do you call a few thousand unelected bureaucrats in Brussels dictating how cheese is made in Italy or ending bull fights in Spain or telling a man in Britain he can’t power his car on his own used cooking oil?
Tyranny, I say, that’s what you call it.
So the problem isn’t Brexit or Frexit or Swexit, says the Millennial. The problem is what’s left in Europe if all that happens.
Germany is left, says Mandi, with all its client states.
That’s an outrageous thing to suggest, I say to Mandi. Brexit can’t lead to another 1914 or 1939.
No, says the Millennial, because this time everyone is a democrat. And no democracy has ever gone to war on another democracy.
Not since 1861, anyway, I say.
Or since the Spanish-American War, says Mandi. Or the Kashmir wars, the Football War, the Six Day War, parts of the Cold War…
Enough! I say. Where’s the nearest bomb shelter?
You boomers, says the Millennial, exasperated, always looking for more chaos. Sure, we’re in for a rough ride. But democracy’s stronger for the Brits’ voting to take back their independence from an overbearing EU, isn’t it?
I agree, says Mandi, but now you’ve got me worried about a Fourth Reich.
© 2016 Steven Hardesty