Warnings: Heavy duty meandering; patriotism mostly of the ‘love & peace, man’ variety; inevitable whinging.
Having been a UK resident for over half my life, I am cautious when it comes to anything which approaches even the slightest breeze of flag-waving. I saw enough of that when I lived in the States.
When I first drafted this blog, the UK was waiting for the polls to close on the vote about whether or not Britain remains in the European Union (EU). I found myself thinking of a quote from one of my favourite books, James Hilton’s “Random Harvest”:
“...a time may also come when it won’t be enough to love England as a tired business man loves a nap after lunch. We may be called upon to love her as the Irish love Ireland—darkly, bitterly, and with a hatred for some who have loved her less and themselves more.”
I am certainly not urging people to love England, Britain, or indeed any other country “darkly,” “bitterly” or with hatred (see previous reference to “love and peace, man”). And yet, I worry about “some who have loved her less and themselves more.”
I’m going to play the immigrant card here: it seems apt, given the degree of carry on there’s been about immigrants, and immigration, during this campaign. In fact, the national attitude toward immigrants is part of why I became a UK citizen. The referendum campaign, as many have noted, has been quite dark, and bitter, at times. I accept, if with surprise at times, that some first and second generation immigrants are in favour of leaving the EU. I am not – as you’ve probably guessed – one of them.
I love being part of something bigger; of a union which, not unlike the United Kingdom itself, believes that countries can have lots of autonomy, yet be part of, as it says on the tin, a “united” kingdom. And, just as England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland spent many years fighting each other, many countries of the EU did likewise.
You’d think the fact that there hasn’t been a war in Europe since the establishment of the EU would be a big selling point, yet this seems to have been swept away in a sea of fear and immigrant bashing, as well as general abuse of the us v them variety. I have tried to avoid failing out over the referendum, because whilst I believe you really can be too rich and/or too thin, you can’t have too many warm acquaintances, and friends.
On the subjects of immigrants who want to leave the EU, I do have a major bone to pick with one of them. This particular woman is an EU national who, during the recent televised debate, didn’t half bang on about being “a mum, and a grandmother”, as if this somehow put a flippin’ halo over her point of view.
Yes, lady, I am childless, but who are you to imply that I don’t have an interest in the future of this country? Not only do I care about what happens to both my countries, I also care about what happens to this planet after I’m gone. This is partly because I have nephews, and nieces, and friends with children. But – I’m going full jackdaw hippy wannabe here – my concern ranges beyond them, to people I have never known, and never will. And yes, also to the descendants of the bees which bimble about in my garden, and to the whole shebang of Earthly flora and fauna.
I hope that my love for this country, and for the States, never becomes dark, or bitter. I do admit to a certain amount of anger in my love. In particular, toward those who come across as more self-serving than patriotic, and who to my mind at least, appear to “love her less, and themselves more“.
You know who you are. And yes, I’m pretty sure you don’t read my blog. It’s Friday morning now, and I’ve just seen the results on the Beeb. You’re much too busy smirking to be bothered with the likes of me. And I’m too busy swearing.