A brief digression into the slightly dodgy field of politics….
Last week I went off to the Council offices in Newtown St Boswells (as usual, the ugliest building in the town) to swear alliegance to the Queen and promise to be a good person generally.
Very difficult to keep a straight face at some points, as it felt very like the simple ceremony we held when I was part of running a cub Scout pack.
Cubs: “I promise that I will do my best to do my duty to God and to the Queen, to help other people and to keep the Cub Scout Law. Cub Scouts always do their best, think of others before themselves and do a good turn every day.”
New British Citizens: “I swear by almighty God that on becoming a British citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her Heirs and Successors, according to law. I will give my loyalty to the United Kingdom and respect its rights and freedoms. I will uphold its democratic values. I will observe its laws faithfully and fulfil my duties and obligations as a British citizen.”
Spot the similarities? Well, not that surprising really, as the Scouts was started as an offshoot of the British Army – and you swear the oath of alliegance when you join the Army to this day.
Anyway, my point (which I will get to eventually) is that although it was a bit stilted and strange, the intention is a good one. You stand up and promise to be part of the country you have gained citizenship of, and to uphold those things which (probably) were a major part in your decision to apply.
How about making this kind of oath (or affirmation – I didn’t swear) part of the coming-of-age of every British Citizen, not just those of us who come to it later in life? Before you vote for the first time (18 at the moment), or when you come to leave school, why not celebrate the values of the society you live in and remind yourself of why it’s a good place to be?
I can’t quite get my head around the idea of starting every day with something like this, the way they do in the USA, but certainly we should make more of this nation and its history of freedom and democracy.