Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I pledge allegiance to the Queen

So along with citizenship lessons the government now expecting teens to recite a pledge of allegiance. Well actually they don't, they're looking at some official-type ceremony to mark the transition to becoming a citizen and a pledge was mooted as part of that.

The first problem I have is the ceremony bit, it you're born in this country you're automatically a citizen of it and as such you already have a yearly celebration which is referred to as a 'birthday'. So what's it all really in aid of? Well if you listen to the government its an attempt to join people together in a common bond via a shared national identity, to my mind it's a subtle attempt to remind us all we're subjects of Her Majesty and therefore Parliament; basically a 'you work for us' creed.

Let's be blunt we've never had a general pledge of allegiance because, like so many things in this country, we don't need one. Pledges were personal things made to a chieftain, a king, a god, or a spouse; they meant something. By pledging to a person you give up certain freedoms with only the possibility of gaining some reward.

That's how our system of government works. It has never been about having to assert the rights you have, but the prohibition of action - if nothing says you can't do it, then you can.

So what's changed? Well it's easy to blame immigration and migrants bringing in 'foreign' ideas and demanding the right to educate their children in their religious/social manner; except read that previous paragraph again - do we have any laws that are stopping this from happening? No so no 'rights' are being demanded they already exist. It's possible to complain that by cutting themselves off foreigners are creating their own ghettos with their own language and customs; at which I'll point out the Yorkshire accent and chasing a cheesewheel down a hill.

So we can't blame immigration, but we still need to find out what's changed. Perhaps it's the advent of mass transportation, we can all work further away from our home bringing together a bunch of people from various areas who only interact within certain times and parameters. Much has been made of people who don't know their neighbours, with talk about bringing back shared spaces etc.; except this doesn't hold up either. Unless you're going to a paid school then your kids play with other local kids and parents are drawn into that social grouping with other parents. Unless you constantly shop out of your local area you'll be bumping into familiar faces and interacting with the same people in stores. Social interaction still exists.

How about education, do we teach out children where they've come from as a nation and how the things that happened have altered our country? Well we might teach them this type of thing at an early age, but what meaning does it have for them? What interactions do they have with authority, from their point of view they're free so explaining why they're free is meaningless; freedom is the natural state of being and doesn't require explanation. So perhaps mandatory history lessons throughout the educationary period are an answer, with emphasis how the past has shaped the future? It might help except apparently schools are already turning out innumerate illiterates and that's with compulsory lessons.

So what's changed? How about politics? We're all being told about exercising our democratic rights while at the same time being slowly shunted out of politics by lack of knowledge of procedure, rules, and regulations. I've mentioned this before as it stands if my local politician (at any level) does something contrary to the wishes of their constituents there's nothing we can do about it for five years. Now while it can be argued this gives them leniency over band-wagon jumping and tabloid pleasing to contemplate the longer-term, current events seem to suggest otherwise. With our government acting increasingly subservient to a European Parliament we have even less connection with, perhaps a sense of apathy is understandable. Except can that be blamed for the lack of 'sense of citizenship' in the country; it may be a factor, but hardly the sole cause.

Perhaps I'm looking at this the wrong way, instead of asking "What's changed?" I should be asking "Why do the government think anything's changed?" and I draw a blank. Sure things have been changing that's what a healthy society does, but can anyone connect these events with a lack of commonality?

Sorry, but I'm coming back to the 'you work for us' reason.

2 comments:

Invisible said...

Not much gets past you, eh? You're definitely a smart cookie. While I ramble on about the merits of quicksort or how my employer is driving me insane, you manage to write about stuff that's actually important

FlipC said...

No my 'stuff' in this entry just affects a larger demographic then your 'stuff'; doesn't make it more or less important just... wider.