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National Pride

Beth and I just came back from a brief drink in town joining our friend Colette celebrating Australia Day at the Walkabout in Covent Garden. I ended up chatting with a guy called Matt about why the English has shied away from celebrating St Georges day in any big way, certainly in comparison to other national holidays around the world (Australia Day a case in point, as well as St Patrick's Day and July 4th).

I find it quite sad that the attitude seems to have become that to be English means to have to hide any national pride you have, since this could be misconstrued as racism or nationalism. Sadly, for a number of years (certainly as far as I can remember) this has been just the case. A nation of oppressors, conquerers, imperialists and slave traders, thus having no right to celebrate what is good about this country we live in.

To be honest, I'd be quite happy to ignore St George's Day in favour of a British national holiday, where we could have an inclusive, open celebration of what it means today to be British. I think we have a lot to be proud of, what with long standing constitutional government (Magna Carta was a while ago y'know), a democratic, free nation which has been a model for countless others, centre of creativity and ingenuity throughout the ages and, hopefully, into the future.

Whilst we can't ignore our past we cannot continue to dwell on it and feel guilty for something that didn't even happen in our lifetimes (and more likely then not, was not the doing of our forbears) - We have to look to the future, and without some sense of identity surely our path is unclear.

"I realize that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone." - Edith Cavell (1865-1915) Last words on date of execution, 12 October 1915
The Times, 23 October 1915
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