Pride of Britain

I’ll be proud of being British when
British people stop being so proud 
of nationalism, flags, and baying in a crowd
about some ghost of Britannia who
only ruled the waves
by exploitation, ignorance and creating their wage slaves,
who greedy men had convinced all evil
came from overseas,
not from profiting from disaster when
this country was on its knees. 

I’ll be proud of being British when it means something good and true,
when compassion reigns over indifference
and we can see our way through
to finding common ground in all that come to our shores,
when we give up these notions of mine, not yours.
I’ll be there, I’ll ring the bell, I’ll stand alongside,
That Greatest of Britain, filled with a nation of pride.

****


August has came and gone. It was hot, then thankfully cool, I spent a lovely week or so with my parents, first visit here, first time seeing them since lockdown, and then September happened.


This time of year always feels like the first week of January to me (which is why I often get the two mixed up). Both the Capricornian and Virgoan energy following Sagittarius and Leo’s levity hits me and I have the urge to get on with things, do admin long neglected and start sorting, organising and discerning what has been working and what has not been working.


What has not been working for me is the sad realisation that rather than bringing us together, this pandemic with early days full of hope and mutual aid groups, checking up on each other, zoom calls with family and friends, has settled into diluted acceptance that this is the way things are, and we are back to in-fighting, line-drawing and stall setting: BLM is a Marxist movement or a fight for justice, nationalism is a mark of fascism or patriotic pride, statues are history or vainglorious affectations of a shameful era. Either – or, either – or, either – or. Neither room for the centre which is pilloried by both sides, nor a hopeful enterprising soul working along the spectrum zipping from one to the other attempting to broker consensus. It’s just not welcome.


Which leads me to my burning question – is compassion only welcome in the face of existential threat? Or has it now been requisitioned by the left and brandished against the right? Do the right have some long-term notion of a world, after the eggs are broken and the omelette served, that we will all be able to live happily ever after? Is there room for anything different? Are hearts open to only those that agree with us and closed to those we see as other? Or is it worse than that, have we become indifferent to the plight of others, too afraid for ourselves and those we consider dear?


I only have questions and a hope for a good answer. An answer that helps us realise how closed we have become to natural progressive conflict, exploration of ideas and beliefs and seeing others as a mirror of ourselves. Where we see that pride in ourselves is in our humanity not the artificial lines drawn by our ancestors in a time where prejudice was considered a virtue.


I am not proud of being British. I want to be. When we can be proud of who we have become.

Published by Kirstie Sivapalan

Writer. Poet. Indie Kid. Crystal Lady. Pisces. Enthuser. Cheerleader. Helper. Geordie Londoner. Sharer of stuff I know. Sometimes found working in HR (but not very often) Oh, and #spoonie, living with ME/CFS. That about covers it.

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