Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Proud to be British?

In the wake of the recent bombs in London and the voices of extremism supporting the beliefs and actions of the bombers by those who not only live here but were born and raised here in England, the government and many other groups in this country are talking about "Britishness" and how to make its citizens feel and act more British. What on Earth is Britishness? I've lived here all my life, indeed I was born here and even I don't know what exactly "Britishness" means. There following images come to mind of contemporary Britishness. Lets not delude ourselves with the halcyon days of yore where everyone tipped their hats off to each other and said “Good day madam” as they walked past. I'm talking about today. Britishness is:

1. Going the pub and getting trashed on alcohol on a Friday and Saturday night and then beating someone up on the streets.
2. Going to a football match causing a mini-riot whilst there.
3. Getting laid at the age of 14 by illegally going to a nigh club and whilst you're at it scoring some drugs and being very proud of the fact that you’re “fitting in” with your friends circle.
4. Not batting an eyelid when someone gets beaten up in a bus or on the street when potentially there's enough people around to stop who-ever the aggressor is.
5. Staring at foreign people as soon as you leave the "multicultural" boundaries of London or Birmingham as if they were strange aliens.
6. Parental disregard for their children’s education and general manners and behaviour.
7. Being content with a nanny state, mollycoddling its citizens in to free this, free that, state hand outs and a don't care attitude instilling apathy and a “don’t care” attitude in the general populous.
8. Fish and chips? Mushy peas?
9. Being embarrassed of the Union flag because of the neo Nazi/BNP image it still portrays.
10. Bangers and mash?

The government is trying to find ways of making people feel more British. How will they achieve this? I have many American friends. Be they South Asian, Italian, Spanish in origin, or originally born and raised in the USA, one thing they all swear by is that they're American. There's no question about it. It doesn't matter what cultural or national background they come from. I ask myself often why this is so. Why are American’s so proud to be American? Why are American's generally, by-and-large so patriotic? Is it because they're proud to be a nation with some of THE BEST educational institutions in the world? Maybe it's because they're the one and only super power in the world? Perhaps it’s the "American dream" attitude that with daring and hard word you can work your way up from nothing to something to be proud of and not be embarrassed to brag about it because those around you aspire towards to same things, to rise up and better themselves. Perhaps it has got something to do with self respect which builds a wider general respect for place you live in? Look at New York for example, or Washington DC. No one ever drop litter on the streets there or if they do, the state run cleaning operations are so frequent and thorough that street litter is a rare site. I guess it's because the citizens of those cities are proud of the place they live in and want it always to be a showcase to visiting travellers, or perhaps they just can't like living in a clean place? You walk down the roads of most parts of Britain, London especially, and there's trash all over the streets. Plastic bottles, smashed glass, graffiti on the walls, newspapers flying around, people spitting up phlegm on to the street (some street wise "I'm cool" cultural habit I've noticed in some sectors of society here in England).

It seems to be that British as a contemporary, modern nation isn't proud of itself anymore. Its citizens have forgotten what it is to be British. There appears to be no respect for ones community or an urgency to bring up ones children in a civil, just and proper manner. There's clearly a continuing trend of the moral fabric of British society breaking down and continuing in that direction. One has only to step out in to a town centre or city centre in the evening on a Friday or Saturday night to see what I mean. These places are ruled by hoodlums causing ordinary every people to be prisoners in their own homes. During the school holidays you often see groups of “hoodies” group at street corners and malls just hanging around, making me and many other feel very uneasy about walking freely around or towns and cities.

Children are no longer kept engaged after school like they used to be many decades ago. Back then, parents would either teach their children a practical skill or encourage them to partake in an after school club like the Scouts or the Brownies. In the USA, sport plays a huge part in general society. Kids are often occupied playing some forms of sport, be it "football", baseball or whatever. Here in Britain the state of most of our sporting facilities is a sham, save a few places of excellence. It reflects in our generally lack luster world standing in sporting events. Most kids here would prefer to watch TV or sit slouched with their Play Station. Is it any wonder we're a nation FAST CATCHING UP with America in the level of obesity amongst not only our adult population but also our children?

You walk down the streets in London and children of eight years old and upwards are using the most foul language and their parents simply don't care, turning a blind eye. If you walk down the streets of New York City and listen to children conversing there, you’ll hardly hear the vile litany of filthy language as compared to the barrage of constant swearing and blinding from kids in London.

Libraries in New York City stay upon almost every day to late hours of the evening, and their public libraries are well stocked, modern and up to date. Try and find a Library, or even a book store in sleepy England that's open past 8 PM on a Wednesday or Saturday/Sunday evening. Can you find one? I can't! How are you going to raise a generation of literate, well read youngsters in a nation where the public facilities to promote such admirable traits are practically non-existent during hours of the day when families may actually have time to spend quality moments with their kids and encourage them to take up reading? People may sneer at the recent phenomenon of Harry Potter but I give kudos to its author, J. K. Rowling, who has spawned a generation of new book worms. However, one can't rely totally upon one genre or one author to educate a country constantly with the gusto and enthusiasm she has caused of late.

Britain may never regain the proudness of its people unless Britain as a country once more becomes a nation that can boast about being great. The "Great" in "Great Britian" seems to me to be a silent, invisible word which no one appreciates or recognises anymore. There *ARE* certainly a great deal of things in Britain which one CAN be proud about, but I don't see anyone bragging about these things. It seems to me like no-one cares anymore, and Government has lost the plot if they’re seriously convinced that citizenship pledges and re-classifying how our ethnic communities refer to themselves as will make a difference