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St George’s Day - Pride, Prejudice, Privilege and Thanks

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St George’s day came and went. With it passed, patriotic, purebred pride, subtly persuasive promises (A new bank holiday!) from pandering politicians, and Pubs. Pubs aplenty, patiently pouring Friday morning hangovers for the Public, Pubs that were plastered and filled with flags and flagons of half drank pints proudly toasting the death of a Dragon and the life of a Syrian man who never stepped foot on this land, although the flag we know and love was handed from him, through King Dick, to us. Sometimes it all seems like a jealous pretence to attempt to keep up with the Irish; nothing says pride like the Irish on Paddy’s day, but they have had their fair share of shit sitting down and discussing problems past, we must permit pride in prevailing resilience.  

So what does it mean to be proud to be English?

Am I proud to be English? I’m lucky to be English; it is a privilege, a privilege no doubt acquired by a past injustice, but in terms of safety and blameless comfort, a privilege nonetheless. Pride, now that’s an entirely different matter, for we have to acknowledge our comfort in the context of its acquisition and be proud, or not, of that.

To be proud of something requires a choice, or a series of choices, maintained attitudes and behaviour; we had no choice in when or where we were to be born, so too be proud of these circumstances is nonsensical. The achievement of our birth is not something we can give, or take credit for. The same way I do not bare the guilt of our crusading predecessors on my shoulders, I do not wear the pride of our achievements on my sleeve. The reason I am English is due to a string of random or, in some scientific way, determined events that were completely out of my control; to be proud of my nationality is to be proud of winning a coin toss. So we could call those believing in birthright and entitlement… toss-ers?

St George’s day often rouses patriotic vibes, spreading a love for all that’s English throughout the seasonally (Six Nations, World Cup) dormant communities. The Day does, however, highlight the seemingly inseparable nature of church and state. The celebration centres on a patron Saint, and is, therefore, ultimately a joyous occasion of the church.  As it has played such a formative role we cannot separate the ruling fist of religion from the development of our nation. But sometimes it seems to go unrecognised that the two do not always go hand in hand; we can celebrate our country’s community without a devout prayer of thanks to a long dead saint.


The 23rd of the 4th bore a very profound and hand-holding message, collaborated from the mouth of social media, and that was: Lucky to be English, Happy to be Human, Thankful for the circumstance and the means to spread the word. 

How lovely and fair, how Humanist. 

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St George’s Day - Pride, Prejudice, Privilege and Thanks Reviewed by Leo Donnelly on Friday, April 24, 2015 Rating: 5

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