I'm sat in a gorgeous tea room in Battle High street as I write this post and it is about 3pm Sunday afternoon. My husband and all three children are in a church just a stones through away. Why are they in church and not me you may wonder? You'll know I'm a Christian and love church, so it may seem a bit strange but I've already been to church this morning and worshipped and the service that my husband and children are in is jam packed full of beavers, cubs, scouts, adventurers, sea scouts and leaders. This is a little elusive club they now have without me! No really, I love that they all have something special in common with Daddy.
Thursday 23rd April was St George's day in England and this is our national day, a day where we are supposed to celebrate being English. That is the reason for today's parade through Battle town and church service that my family are all in. Growing up my husband was very involved in scouting and I've seen lots of photos of him marching through his home town as a cub and scout and he talks fondly of those marches and how he enjoyed them.
On Thursday I was sad to see so many Facebook status updates where people were disillusioned with what St George's day was about and saying it was an excuse for racism and extreme behaviour. I responded to one saying the following -
First off there is never an excuse for racism but as for a day that celebrates GB and asks the British to be a little proud of who we are as a nation and what we have achieved, yes I'm all for that. Having spent time in the US last year and visiting their Museum of American History I walked out feeling teary as they have so much pride in who they are and what they stand for. Whether we agree with that is another matter but what they instill in their children is very important - to love and nurture their homeland and each other.So today as my family are in this service I am reflecting on what makes me proud to be British. Not just English though, as I think of myself as British and our country as a united whole. So here are just three reasons why I have a sense of national pride -
1. I think that the scouting movement had a big influence on the man my husband has become. His great values, attitude of service to others, desire to succeed and dedication to his family came from the great men who offered their time to be volunteer leaders and also from the values of the movement itself. Back then there was a much stronger Christian ethos within the movement too and that was one of the reasons that dh went to church, even though this family did not.
If it had not been for a British man, Lord Baden-Powell setting up the scouting movement and for my husbands links to a church in Welwyn Garden City and his positive memories from there we may never have got married in church and as part of that process attended the Alpha course and found Christ as our saviour.
2. I'm not going to tell you that those in power are doing a perfect job, they are not, there is much that could be changed for the better but I also acknowledge that politics is not a simple matter and I do not have a full in-depth understanding of it all. However I am proud of some of the achievements of those in power over the years. I am so grateful for our NHS and on numerous occasions it has made a difference to me and those closest to me.
I'm also totally stoked that the UK are the biggest country donor to GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations. We are helping to make sure that vulnerable children are immunised and don't have to die from something as simple as diarrhoea. In the same vein I cried with happiness when the bill went through parliament to approve the UK giving 0.7% of GNP in development aid. That is one step closer to no person ever having to live in extreme poverty again.
3. In Britain I am free to be a Christian. I can worship and spread the gospel in public and have no worries of recriminations. Living in an international community like I do I get to hear stories from Christian people who live in countries where they have to meet in private and keep their faith low-key for worry of what may happen if they dare to exclaim their love for our Lord.
For me I think it is really important that our children grow up being proud to be British, not because I want them to think they are better than anyone else nor because I don't want them to be welcoming or tolerant to people of other race, cultures or faiths. St George, our patron saint was part of the Roman army and born in Cappadocia (modern day Turkey) and I think that is perfect and reminds us that we can take example from and welcome people of all nationalities.
Personally I feel that when our children take an interest and pride in the place where they live, the people they are surrounded by and the culture they live within then they will start to develop a love and acceptance for all people that is so necessary to a harmonious future. As my family marched past the Mayor of Bexhill today and turned their eyes left and saluted her the word came to me that I think something like scouting teaches and that is respect.
St George was chosen as our patron saint because he is associated with the ideals that England wishes to be identified with, those of honour and bravery. He made a stand for those being persecuted and received personal pain as a result of his beliefs and desire to stand up for others. if any of my children follow in the footsteps of St George, standing up for what they strongly believe in then I could not be more proud.
I'm really glad I took time today to think about what makes me proud to be British, this post has been a long time coming as I starting thinking about it when I was in the USA and was blown away by their love for the star spangled banner. There are so many reasons I could have given as to why I'm proud to be British - like the superb bands and singers that come from this small country, the inventions Brits have been responsible for (like the World Wide Web, steam train, the TV, the telephone) that have changed the world, our fashion being in demand the world over, our rich history and our superb educational institutes.
What about you, are you proud of your home country? and why?
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