The Queen’s Jubilee and recent comments by Labour politicians have reopened the perennial discussion about Englishness.
It’s a debate fraught with flag-waving nationalism, racism and other strands of woolly-headed thinking. Frankly, it makes me want to throw things, and I don’t mean a street-party.
“Patriotism is a lively sense of collective responsibility. Nationalism is a silly cock crowing on its own dunghill and calling for larger spurs and brighter beaks. I fear that nationalism is one of England’s many spurious gifts to the world.” – Richard Aldington.
Actually, there are lots of clever people willing to say how bloody silly all this flag waving is; but that doesn’t stop us, or for that matter North Korea.
So here’s my recommendation – let’s decide what we want to be and then set our minds to it. In fact, see my recent post on objective setting.
There are three things I admire, and I’d like to see them become part of a working definition of Englishness –
• Compassion and kindness – greatly underrated in my opinion. You can’t always make a situation right – e.g. the Syrian crisis – but you can be kind to the people affected.
• Intelligence, wisdom and reasonableness – you have a brain, so think.
• Courage and integrity – if you know what’s right then do it, if it you know something is wrong then stop. Easy really. Oh, and let’s stop this ridiculous medieval pretence that bloodline maketh man.
Our current royal family are living proof to the contrary, and the notion that leaders are born not made is a poison and a cancer that is rotting our society from within (Polly Toynbee nails it here).