Well that’s it , I’ve just watched the parade of the athletics, the day after the closing ceremony of the Paralympics 2012! And I am feeling proud, blessed, utterly uplifted and so proud to fly the union jack!!!!
I have to admit I was quietly looking forward to this summer, with the queens jubilee, the European football (less said the better) and of course the Olympics … What a year to test your patriotic spirit and to embrace the community that is our country. I for one have been proud to wave the flag!
But that wasn’t the feelings of everyone… it was certainly, in some circles, not seen as an exciting year for britain. Flying my Union Jack was not welcomed by everyone!
I am a big lover of the flag, I have always flown it at any excuse and was totally sucked up by the vintage union jack craze over the last few years. It has something about it. Warming, safe and weirdly echoing sentiments of family, community and safety. My memories stemming back to war time stories told by my Grandad Pat’, the royal weddings I have seen in my lifetime, many celebrations such as the olympics, commonwealth games and of course my obsession with the ‘make do and mend’ war years, in which this symbol that was our flag was a singular and most powerful sight of hope and faith.
I had a conversation a few years ago with friends about our British flag..The Union Jack. They talked about how they didn’t feel any pride in the union flag. In fact they felt ashamed, disgusted, betrayed by it and didn’t want to acknowledge or celebrate their Britishness let alone via the Union Jack.. I listened to their reasons, and agreed utterly with many of their thoughts and feelings, Listening to how they linked the Union Flag with its symbolization of historical power and dominance I considered exactly I felt about the flag and indeed my Britishness. Our flag and the way our ancestors built up the British empire? how we flew our flag as a sign of ownership, power and of course in cases, oppression? somehow had it teamed up with modern day racism and the yobbish behavior that echoed back to its misuse in facsist campaigning and football violence?
‘I am not going to go into this in detail, it’s not my point nor is it relevant to do this, we all know what went on way back when Britain ruled the world, and besides, I do believe a lot of good came out of the British empire and all it stood for, in fact it still does do much positive effect…. But…. I’m not in anyway going to start belittling the negative impact we had on many countries and their people. similarly I understand how the recent more modern use of the british flag can taint its image. How it was seen often flying at BNP rallies and handing of the rails of a football stand accompanied by a story of violent confrontation between our nation and one equally responsive other was and is a powerful and memorable image stained on our hearts’
It’s not that I don’t have extremely strong feelings about all of the above, but I am fucked if I’m gonna let these minority bigots and ignorant individuals take ownership of a symbol that supported a nation of British men, women and children through many wars, depressions, celebrations and pride. We ALL know what it is to be brandished with the mark of a ‘group’ of people, to be pulled into a stereotype and to feel violated when they use something or someone close to us as an totem for their bad or unethical behavior. So I am not going to write about the rights and wrongs of the commonwealth or start of racism and violence… it, like the rest of the blog will only be touched upon and not examined… or I will end up writing a whole essay, and frankly this has the potential to be a bit of boring rant as it is…!so…..
Get this….. It was a long time ago, do we have to take responsibility for the actions of those in power way back then? I certainly refuse to be tarred by any bad my countrymen may have opposed on others and indeed each other. Nor should the modern German citizens take responsibility for the horrors of the holocaust, nor the American working men and women take responsibility for slavery (to name one of many actions of the early Americans that could be accused of historically) how much do we draw comparisons? Maybe the Greeks should take responsibility for the way they threw poor unassuming men into the lions den to watch till the death? How about us Brits.. no… YOU personally… become responsible for the way we:
– drowned ‘witches’ hung criminals?
– held Maids and house staff in silenced slavery? forced in married women to give up their infants?
– Maybe for allowing the mentally ill rot away in torturous asylums?
-Or the poor in the slaved in the work houses?
are you or your loved ones responsible? is anyone alive here and now responsible for all the shitty things that happened in or with the UK?
In short our past, as is everyone else’s, a journey in history in which we have travelled…. It made and created us who we are, how we act and how we live now as a national community. Its evolving, all communities evolve! they learn and work with the discovery of actions bad and good. Weather we talk about our history as a country or as a community or indeed as an individual, we all progress, learning from the actions of others, of those of our own past. We need to understand ‘bad’ to enable us to act ‘good’ ….look at the old school philosophers (google Plato and Freud for a start) they loved this shit! http://www.evolutionaryethics.com/
Just as the horrible histories ( really if you haven’t seen this you must) illustrate we come form a very violent and barbaric line of generations, each one less horrid than the last… we are here in 2012 and you know what it’s not that fucking bad!
WE are evolving, it’s not perfect of course.. but don’t underestimate the evolution and positivity of our nation. I for one am very proud and pleased with how we have come on over the years and what our people are achieving right now…
So what makes me proud of being British, English, a Yorkshire woman?
Firstly I love our land, the green luscious hard worked land in which I am graced with the loan of a small bit of during my time on this earth. The land that has been tended for many hundreds of years , a land that is fruitful, rich and lush. (I understand this will cause argument and I stand back awaiting the backlash)… I know how farmers have lost land and the ability to farm, how other vast arid counties don’t have this luxury of luscious green fertile land and suffer from famine and drought. … I by no way forget this, but it doesn’t, and will not stop me celebrating our fortune of good land and the backbreaking work that our land keepers undergo to provide us good fresh safe food from their piece of earth…(yes i know all about GM foods, PESTICIDES, and forced cultivation and all that, I’m not denying the issue that it needs change… but pointing out.. that quite simply we have fertile growth in abundance) I celebrate and give thanks that even in the face of adversity we continue to struggle to work with this land (but in no way do we struggle like our brother and sisters in waterless, arid and growth less countries). I love and appreciate how we see an uprising and celebration of home-grown local produce..the praise and consumer desire for organic and British grown produce….a movement that is continuously adapting to keep our land alive.. and hey guess what I love celebrating the harvest festival!.
I celebrate, that slowly, we are sharing the message that we must do more to protect not only our land but that of the worlds… We know it’s not enough as yet.. But look back just ten years!!! We are now all recycling( with the support of our councils/governments) building compost heaps, starting to embrace the technology of solar panels, wind turbines and even seeing how ‘growing our own’ is becoming the norm, quite fashionable even!?! when u look at the waiting lists for allotments and the schemes in place to support sustainable living through energy reform and awareness… I am proud in the distance we have travelled together.
I’m proud of how we as communities are starting to work together. Many may be unaware of how thriving their community is.. But believe me if you look for it you will find it… With the uprising of community projects in arts, music, dance, drama and groups such as the women’s institutes, adult education ( much of which is funded) the governments, councils, arts council, sports councils, lottery funding and arts and business, in short they have put tens of thousands/millions into creating creativity, health and information… More than ever before! Particularly in inner cities and deprived housing with high percentages of crime and depression.
It’s not perfect yet.. I don’t think It ever will be .. We are on a journey here.. A journey through an ever-changing world… We will never get it totally right…. But my god we should feel so honoured to have these things in place here in th UK. Like it or not we have some amazing riches but I fear we are frightened to see them in case we are named as a traitor, a conservative, a fascist, middle-class, greedy, blinkered, ‘not in touch with the real world’ etc etc etc…( FYI : I was once called a fascist for asking for asking all my employees to provide personal details and references)
Honoured I am, that our government are ploughing money directly into communities who live in response to the difficulties of social change. Proud of the way we can speak and be heard. …..So many nations across the world can not! (don’t kid yourself when you say we don’t a have a voice in the UK, it is offensive and dismissive of our freedom to communicate and make a difference, the heroes in our community are those that do just that.. do some research!) Many in this country say ‘we have no voice’ ‘no one cares’ and that ‘there is nothing for them‘…’ No future‘ how wrong you are! (will get to that)
Without pointing out the vast array of community projects talked about above, let’s look at the free health care, free schooling ( EVERYONE GETS CHANCE TO GO TO SCHOOL ) free fire service, free policing, free education (for those with low or no income…yes you do get support at uni … again I will discuss this later) ……how about the fact you can be supported should you find yourself addicted to heroin or alcohol? how about the free clinics and hospitals that treat our young as they sink in to the depths of anorexia, bulimia and mental health issues? How about the elderly and the dying, cared for in homes and hospices???? WE are angry about the pensions and the lack of them…but are you aware how few countries offer a state pension??? Do they count??? Most countries care for their elders within their own family.. we expect the state to do it for us and complain when it starts to struggle to do this financially…..????
How about The ability to speak out ????( I’m doing it now on a blog, feeling pretty nervous ‘cos I’m not sure everyone will see my point.. but I’m not fearing for my life by writing it) with Facebook, text, phones, books, websites, forums and basic general speech in the street… freedom to talk and communicate is not to be bypassed when thinking about how lucky we are here in the UK!
Don’t fall in the trap of believing we are NOT free!! We have a vote and a voice , communities and services, rights and protection. Again I’m no fool and I know it’s not perfect … We all have stories of terrible violation and the control of individuals rights and beliefs.. but we must, and I pray that we can, have fair controls in place to protect us and our children, someone hurting, taking or inflicting suffering or acting with greed, must be stopped in some way to protect the good and the nation in their quest for freedom… we must find a way to make this happen… I believe it is evolving!
We hear of ‘bad’ care in hospitals or such awful abuse in homes offering pastoral care etc etc … But my god we have some of the best medical professionals and services in the world.. Free to every person in this country!!! I know it’s not so clear-cut …But my god how bloody rich we are to have all this..no matter how flawed… evolving daily against all the odds!!! where do all the millions of pounds come to pay for all this???
Our governments and councils provide this, provided by taxes from our hard-working peers, incomes from business that work for us not always against us. ( opening the flood gates I know)
Are we so spoiled that we have found ourselves in such a privileged position to be able to find fault in everything we have given?…so used to what we have that we still feel we need more….?
Are we so spoiled that we stomp our feet if we simply don’t get the best self-centred free care?
Sounds ungrateful to me, a bit ‘greedy’ … Sounds like to me that so many of us believe we should have and deserve more than is available for us all to share!!!! We are given so much no matter how hard it is to maintain and share around….. yet we still want to take more of the cream… more benefits, more housing, more money, more health care, more education…….more more more…..
Who does that remind you of???? Let’s think… Folks who take everything for free, but don’t want to share it out between us all, take what they want, expect everyone to provide for u to keep for yourself…??? ( this isn’t actually my opinion but one of those that I have seen to complain about what we have, don’t have etc) Bankers, royalty, mps, lords… and I’ve noticed recently..Home owners, professionals such as doctors and lawyers, those who have saved and inherited and are not on the ‘bread line’ ( can u see where I might go here when thinking about university fees?)
WE NEED TO START SEEING WHAT WE HAVE…APPRICIATE THE RICHES BEFORE GREEDILY DEMAND MORE OF EVERYTHING.!!!!!! GIVE THANKS… BE PROUD OF OUR ACHIEVEMENTS.. IT DOESN’T MEAN YOU DONT UNDERSTAND WHAT WE OR OTHERS ARE LACKING!!!!!!!!!!!! WITHOUT TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE GOOD AND THE BAD, WE CANNOT NOT MOVE FORWARD WITH INTEGRITY.
I find it so tough to listen to folks who talk about how we need to ‘return to basics’, how we should ‘work together to create a cooperative’ how we need to ‘share’ and how we need to be able to ‘be heard’ and be able to ‘speak out!’ Funny but i think we have all this in place! But not everyone wants to hear it…ADMIT IT!
Let’s work together and be grateful for what we have, does a mother in Africa blame her hospital that her child died from malaria? Or is she is grateful she was welcomed into a hospital at all? … grateful that someone could try to help..when so many of her sisters remain untreated and dying. Here we all have access to this care for free, enough in each town and city for every person to be treated! So why do we still think we are being badly treated, owed something more? We forget to celebrate what systems we have, what care we have ( even if it’s not perfect yet and is a work in progress… Don’t forget we are in a huge financial crisis right now and everything is suffering.. ALL THIS CARE COSTS BILLIONS )
Instead of seeing the progress and wealth of what we have, we make noises that it is not at all good enough! Such a shame because we have so so much!!!! Achieved so so much as a country !!!! Especially as we are, as a country, still finding the billions it costs to provide these services ( free to all citizens, tax payers or not) bloody hell I am proud of that achievement! ,,,
“A way to find a way to treat and care for every one of its citizens”.
I join that great British co-operative of givers (that is the tax payers) and in return I know I help provide so much for those in my country who have so much less. I hope those that take those pounds of shared out money, only take what they need before giving back into the pot.I’m proud that my kids get free schooling! education is freedom ! and I see schools working hard to create highly educated children and also to care for them pastorally as a school community..I see the school involving parents, giving them a voice and an involvement in the education of their child….I see women and men choosing to educate their child at home, and the country supports it…. I see adults, who didn’t achieve getting chance to go back to school for free, to re-educate and move forward providing themselves with brighter futures if they choose that indeed that life would be brighter if they chose it to be. … I see those on benefits able to step into adult education that supports them prepare to find themselves back in the work place. I see students, young and old offered low-interest loans on hugely soft terms, to enable them to train for higher paid, specialist roles which pay more, provide services for their community and take responsibility for their own futures. ( again this is contentious…. But yes I think it’s right that the government doesn’t pay for every students’ degree… Tutors need wages, colleges and buildings need maintaining… I think at this level of personal development you should take personal responsibility for it financially… After all, no matter how you may argue, you are 90% more likely to work in a higher paid role with a degree .. Which in turn allows you to be able to afford to pay for the education you received to get you there in that very role..(don’t all the socialists believe that the rich shouldn’t get stuff for free!!! ok .. so if this is the case do we support the potentially rich get their for free? is it fair that those on low paid wages should pay ( via tax) for someone to become a doctor ( for example) and live on a hight paid scale than themselves?) also the amount of students ‘flunking’ out of their studies, since fees became chargeable , has dramatically dropped, saving the government millions, yes millions, of waisted cash….waisted wages from the lower paid hard-working tax payer!?…. All of a sudden going to university isn’t a paid opportunity to move out and have fun… It is now a serious career move and the (chosen) chance to invest in your own future… And with the government offering these supportive loans with supportive terms… I reckon we get a good deal! they are helping but not paying… ) So what else am I proud of?
- I’m proud of how the Brits wave from bridges.
- The way we randomly burst into song when together
- chatting about weather at bus stops and in general.
- Come together as towns and communities to support their teams on mass and largely with frequently banter.
- I’m proud that you can’t use racist, sexist or homophobic language, action or discrimination…both at work or on the streets
- I’m proud that for those that are racist, sexist and homophobic, there are more folk now able and brave enough to stand up and say “NO!.. that’s not ok…”
- I’m proud I can call the police if I or my children are in danger
- I’m proud that no army ransack my village and rape the women and girls with in it
- I’m proud we fought again genocide and came together as a country to fight for our and others’ freedom and equality.
- I’m proud we can vote, not just as woman but as citizens and eaquals
- I’m proud to pay tax to share my wealth with other who have none
- I’m proud that I am safe when say “I don’t agree”
- I proud that our elders and sick are provided for however small.
- I’m proud that we have clean water, Thank god every one of us has access to clean water,
- I’m proud that we can create music, words and art freely and openly.. and our government support us.
- Proud we can gather to sing, dance and sing, to talk about our dreams, our fears and our needs
- Proud of our rain, our sun our snow and our shelters
and..I’m proud that my grandmother ( taught by her mother) taught my mother ….who taught me…. who now teaches my daughters…. to be thankful for our ‘haves’ not to be woeful for our ‘lacks’ and never guilty for the wrongdoings of others who came before us but to be thankful, proud and appreciate our accomplishments.
There are tons of things that get me cross, and many English traits that I am so very un-proud… but it’s not my point here.. I’m seeing the good, looking at the brilliance and generosity that is great britain, I am not naive nor am I ignorant to believe its all that we have… but shit we are lucky to be here! here on this journey of developement.
So anyway… Today once more I openly celebrated been British and proud, I got teary to see so many thousands of folks coming out, with their union jacks to cheer for their people and sport ambassadors . So proud of what we have and what we provide and proud of myself for writing it freely without fear of death or persecution.