Today I will face an annual grumping. On this day, the day of the NFL International Series, Jase will moan at me, about me, to me. I love American Football and today I am going to Wembley to watch my second (but really first) team, the Miami Dolphins, take on the Oakland Raiders. Before the match, every year, I get an ear roasting.
I have been struggling over the last few years to decide where my loyalties lie and why. What social groups do I belong to, or at least feel most allegiance? If we accept that we are social beings and that we need to belong to groups or tribes then you start to think to which tribes do I belong?
My tribes change depending on what I am doing or who I am with. I guess my tribes are how I identify myself within society. It’s a way of quickly explaining things about me. We take information about these tribes and use them to make decisions about people. We do this all the time. It’s similar to the cast system in India, we judge people by their associations and not necessarily their deeds.
Some of my tribes IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER:
- Heavy Metal – I spent a great deal of teenage time associating myself with this tribe. It was and still is a very big part of my life.
- Industrial Electronica – this is a new tribe. It’s what I listen to and write.
- Tottenham Hotspur – Now, this is an odd one. It seems to me that if you live in the UK you must have a soccer team. “My team” is Spurs. I don’t like football. I don’t enjoy it. I don’t understand the fanatical following by people but Spurs is my family’s team and so that’s who I support. It’s my dad’s fault, but then we grew up in the London over-run area so it was to be expected.
- Fulham Five – a bunch of 5+1 people who met over 20 years ago.
- Home Friends – a few people I still would “go that extra mile” for. I know none of them from school, I feel very little allegiance to my school.
- 309 ATC – This was where I spent my teenage years getting to experience things most people can only dream of. I’ve not been a part of the Squadron for 15 years and I still visit, I still give money, I still attend the dinners.
- MGS CCF RAF Section – My new thing. It’s a strange one because I’m not initially a CCF man but am becoming one. This CCF Section does a lot of good.
- MGS – having been here for six or so years I feel part of the community and happy to be there. It’s looked after me well.
- New Orleans Saints – my first NFL team after seeing them play at Wembley in 2008. The Dolphins are my second team as I have supported them since the mid-eighties.
I should feel a great deal of patriotism, I think it’s expected, but I struggle to identify with what the UK is or stands for. I guess this may have been easier in the cold war because there was an enemy, the zeitgeist was more patriotic. I’m not sure that I love the UK or England. I don’t know what it means to be British I guess. We Brits are meant to have common values but I don’t know what they are. I am British but I don’t know what that means. I struggle with this.
Would I stand and fight if necessary? Yes. Where would I draw the line? I don’t know. Part of me feels that the cliffs of Dover make a good line, through the fortunate but randomness that the UK is (mostly) an island and we have distinct borders. But if there’s an army marching across Europe would I wait until they got to Calais? Probably not, so does that mean I identify as European? I don’t know. Once you start moving the “line” where do you stop?
I feel that we as a collection of humans need to see each other for what we really are:
We break our societies down into manageable chunks so that we can closely identify and organise ourselves, but in reality we are the SAME. We are one collection of lots of little tribes where we fight for one tribe or identity above another and that’s quite sad. Who cares if you support Arsenal or Spurs? Who cares if you speak Spanish and I speak English? We care the same for our families and our societies, we are the same. I think this is at the crux of my problems with identifying with a country [which is purely a socially constructed tribe for the organisation of things].
Countries are too big and vague for me to feel a connection. I think I feel a connection or loyalty to those things which I experience regularly. Hence the list above. I don’t really feel loyalty to things I don’t feel or see or experience regularly.
And finally to the reason that Jase will moan at me today. I won’t sing the national anthem. Jase doesn’t like this, he thinks it’s wrong. I will stand, if only to avoid having to explain myself because it seems that it is “disrespectful” to sit [I don’t understand who or what I would be disrespecting or even what that means]. I don’t feel a connection to the UK. I won’t sing the anthem. At work when we have awards presentations I sing the school song [small local tribe] but I still don’t sing the national anthem.
Another, small point. Our national anthem [see how I said “our”, because I feel some connection, oh the hypocrisy] has nothing to do with our country. It’s about god blessing and saving a person [or legal entity]. We don’t sing about the lands and its people, we sing for praise to a person who is meant to be more important than anyone else. Fuck that. Give me a song about the land, as long as it’s not “Jerusalem”, and I might consider singing it.