I Don’t Get It

Union Flag and St Georges Cross.jpg
By THORSummer Sky in Southsea England, CC BY 2.0, Link

So, how does that make you feel?

It doesn’t do a great deal for me. In the past it has made me feel proud (?) or occasionally tingly but now it mostly leaves me cold. I’ve written about patriotism a few times before such as here, here and here.

As I don’t understand what it means to be British I looked up the official British Values in Google and there was lots of stuff that is accepted as Fundamental British Values for teaching in school.

Fundamental British Values

  • democracy
  • the rule of law
  • individual liberty
  • mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith.

Democracy – yep, we allow people to vote. But democracy is ruined by the political playing done by those in power who further themselves rather than act in what is best for the citizens of this country. I think Blair, May, Johnson, Rees-Mogg [cunt] and most of the so called “political elite”. See, there, that name “elite”, it reinforces that some are meant to rule and others should be subservient.

Rule Of Law – unless you are rich enough to bend that law. If you are wealthy then you can bend the rules and pay people to do that for you. You can find ways around tax and citizenship so you can play but don’t have to pay. Most of society is forced to behave in a way you find detrimental to your power. We’ve fought two wars recently, most likely based upon personal revenge and lies rather than for any humanitarian purpose. Oh, humanitarian war sounds oxymoronic but war to produce a better society fairer to all is probably the only legitimate reason for war. Politicians can lie and still keep their jobs or accept new jobs.

Individual Liberty – as long as you know your social limit I guess. This is something that people should have. They should have the ability to do what they want within the framework of a liberal legal and law system. You can’t have the liberty to break the law but by and large the state shouldn’t tell you how to behave or what to believe. As a humanist I can get on board with this one. I think the UK does this well. Although we have bishops in the Lords and the hereditary house of lords anyway. The law still states worship everyday in schools, but no school conforms to that. The people should be free to do as they wish. There are still politicians who don’t think that. There are still politicians who are anti-gay. They get elected by a population that is slowly becoming more tolerant, I hope, but occasionally I walk down the high street of my local town and see the intolerance in people and their attitudes.

Respect and Tolerance – sure. Sounds lovely. I’m not sure that’s the reality. So some people will always be scum and act horribly to anyone different. I think this country treats them as they deserve, we largely ignore them. Those who spout hatred and violence go ignored. Unless you are a MP for the DUP, in which case the more you shout the more likely you are to be elected.

So, I think that I am meant to be proud of these values and accept them as British, as part of the fabric of this country. But when I think of this country I think of the following and I am ashamed:

  • Imperialistic past
  • Pretensions of being a “world” leader
  • Incompetent politicians
  • War mongering industry
  • Iraq war
  • Slavery
  • Riches through stealing
  • Racism and xenophobia

I find it very hard to identify with the flag and the country. I am well aware that at least I live in a country where it is OK to say that. I live in a country with mostly liberal and progressive laws where freedom is cherished. But stand without and look upon the face of this bullish country and it makes me feel sad.

I tried explaining recently to a group of friends why I don’t stand for the national anthem. It was not easy to elucidate my reasons but I tried. I think they possibly forgave me and let it pass knowing what sort of person I am. Trump would, of course, have me sacked because he is very obviously an idiotic bully.

If it was the law that we had to stand I would like to think I would still stay seated. What does showing respect mean? Why do I have to stand for it? I struggle with this all the time. Oh, how I am a tortured soul [I write ironically].

My friends replied that even if I don’t like the government I could stand for “pork pies and picnics”. Yes, I could stand for that I think, even though I don’t like either. But where in the list of things this country has done is that subsection called “quaint English things to do when it doesn’t rain”?

To be honest I am also struggling with forms of address. Why, if we are all people do I have to call someone else something specific. I am very willing to listen but just because someone does a specific job I have to call them something special? This is reinforcement of the ruling classes over everyone else. It confers a level of respect that possible isn’t due to that person. As an extreme example lets just consider all those parts of the Catholic Church, including the fucking pope, who have covered up / defended / NOT TOLD the police about all the kid-fucking.

I have my moments, when I think, “Wow, that was cool, look at what we can do as a group of people”. But I will not accept this as becoming because of the country. The UK has borders clearly defined by the sea, the parts of Earth where humans can’t live. We should be proud of Newton and Watt. But, they were only born here by chance, others would have worked those things out. Claiming people for your country is weird. Da’Vinci was Italian? Nope. Italy didn’t exist then. But they claim him now don’t they? Just because he entered this world geographically within their imaginary lines on this Earth. See, what does it matter who was born in your country?

I think I started thinking about this when I started work at my current school. On Speech Day we would sing the national anthem and also the school song, Gaudeamus. I found that the national anthem made me feel anger. It doesn’t stand for what I believe. Whereas the school song resonated more with me, even though it is a terrible song. I’ve a feeling this is about the level of community offered by both of these. The school community is more measured and tangible than what this country offers. I know the values and people of this place of work more than I do this country. I know what I sing for when I sing the school song, although that is changing towards a worry about the problems of indoctrination.

So, I do not feel proud to be British. I consider myself a person first and therefore part of humanity. I accept things that fall into the category of “being nice to people”, I reject things that miss that category. Nationality is a label and divides us, much as religions, class and sports teams do. I think this flag stands for dislike and internal-ism, it stands for selfishness and exclusion. It does nothing for me.




Note: This communication was started in February 2017 and thought about a lot. I will miss points I want to make. I have struggled with this problem of identity for a long time and the Brexit vote made me feel it even more. I do not recognise what this country or its people stands for. The current government is inept. The rise of hatred and general xenophobia horrifies me. I write as a stream and much like my lessons I lurch from one thing to another. It is me.

I Don’t Understand

BBC NewsI am fully aware that I am going to come across as an asshole in this piece but this sort of thing really annoys me. This is a special allowance given to a group of people who “sincerely believe” that they must fast during a particular time of the year. Now, it’s not just Islam that is catered for. Christianity gets Easter breaks for schools moved around every year just because they “sincerely believe” that something special happened two thousand years ago not on that date.

Here’s my thought process.

Clearly god does not exist. If god did exist then how come all the books written for him by messengers are different and contain different messages. This is not my only argument against god but it is clearly a human invention. Show me your proof and I promise I will believe, I’m happy to wait.

As god does not exist all religions are bullshit. They are just codified ways of treating each other (or hating women, foreigners, gays, the disabled etc if you have really read them).

Therefore all “sincerely held beliefs” are bullshit. No state should tolerate them being used as excuses for special treatment.

Now that seems extreme but in reality it means everyone gets treated the same. The same rules apply to one and all. I utterly fail to understand how you can tell what a “sincerely held belief” is. How do you know someone has that? If I want every Wednesday off work because the Church of the Flying Spaghetti monster deems that necessary everyone would laugh at me.

That’s not a real religion.

They would say.

How the fuck can you tell?

Would be my response.

It’s a bit like Donald Trump claiming he’ll stop all muslims entering the USA. How the fuck can you tell who is a muslim? Do you ask them? How do you know they aren’t lying. What do you have to do to be a true muslim? How can you prove you are a true jew? How do you tell someone that you are a devoted christian? This is the “no true scotsman” fallacy. You can’t tell this stuff.

Let’s stop asking for changes for groups of people because of “special pleading” or “sincerely held beliefs”. I don’t like the idea that once one group gets special treatment then all the others should get it too. Let’s just treat everyone the same and call this treatment out for what it truly is: bullshit.