Who are we, really?

My own views beyond any political leaning, faith or creed

I want to look at what it is to be British. A lot of politics right now seems to harken to an authentic and narrow Britain that has never existed. To me, being British is being part of a small island that, when fascism set the world on fire, ultimately fought it, both overseas and within it’s borders. We are an Island that when the world was at war with itself, nearly fell to the brink itself, yet said ‘no’ to hate. Later we co-wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That to me is a Britain worth fighting for. Yet at our worst we do the opposite. History tells of the signs, ‘no Irish’, ‘no blacks’ ‘no Jews’, and we live in a nation in which Jean Charles De Menezes was mistaken for a terrorist and killed for living in the wrong neighbourhood and not being white. That has to be challenged.

Britain, like any civilization at its best, recognises and celebrates diversity. There is a Britain that knows we have been of many ethnicities, faiths and creeds for as long as history recounts or distorts our stories. It is a Britain that understands we are all migrants or descended from migrants and that migration is multi-way. It is a Britain who can begin to look properly at resource consumption , a fairer economy, non-marketisation of public services and increased women’s empowerment to help address issues with housing, jobs and services. It is a Britain who can look at challenging conflict and climate chaos as a way to limit emergency migration so people make their home here through choice not destruction of their previous homeland. That Britain has existed through the ages. It is the Britain I wish future generations to easily recognise as a strong vein from our heart. A culture of welcome and inclusion. It is not the only face of our culture, which plays the roles of conqueror and shelter, destroyer of worlds and re-builder of lives. As a human culture it is in essence many things.

Today many gathered across political, economic and social divides to protect the part of who we are that I am proud of. I was only there in spirit, as many were. This was an honouring of that art of humanity seen during the struggle for emancipation in America when British workers, struggling themselves, went on strike in solidarity with those enslaved so many miles away they would never meet. This spirit is within the UK to help fight the ways humans are still enslaved here and overseas in ways we choose so often not to see. There are many other things I love about being British, including our varied and living literary heritage, our love of tea as a cure for almost all ills, our music, our health service, our architecture and invention and our rich and varied wildlife. I love our gleeful love of murder mysteries and our picnics in the rain. Today, along with others across the globe, for many our focus is on our historic and current struggle against racism, antisemitism, Isamophobia and other ways people are marked as less by those who are frightened. Fears, rerouted to unfounded foundations, are stirred to create scapegoats during economic and socially troubled times. It is time to fight those fears together. It is time to have the conversations about our future together, rather than see in someone different a monster to tame, slay or throw away.

One Comment

Comments are closed.