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What does it mean to be British?

What does it mean to be British? Come to that - or any nationality? What is it that defines a nation? What are the characteristics that we feel represent our heritage? And perhaps more importantly, what would we like it to be?

Sometimes while working abroard being British has had a stigma attached to it - and sometimes it has been met positively. What is, of course, best, is when I am not British, but just another human being who is judged, not by race but on merit. Alas, we do not yet live in that perfect world.

I am not hugely nationalistic, but on the whole, I am proud of being British. Nationhood speaks of values developed throughout history. Of course, I am ashamed that the British invented "Concentration Camps" during the Boar war and all the human suffering that involved. Just as I am of all the General Dyer characters and the tragedies of injustice like the Amritsar Massacre that these people caused and remain stains on Britains name. 

For all the bad things that the Brits have done, they have been a force for good also. Eighty years ago they fended off the Third Reiche and were all that stood between freedom and tyranny in Europe. My Father played a part in that, and I am justly proud of him. He brought me up to believe in loving kindness, hard work, honesty, and chivalry. But to always stand up to bullies and help the weak and those who cannot defend themselves and to always do what feels right. I recognise that not everyone would agree but to me - these are British traits of our national character - or should be.

Britain, at the behest of the heroic efforts of Nicholas Winterton, waived all restrictions on visas for the, nearly 10,000 - predominantly Jewish children rescued from the Nazi regime before the war; the Kinder-children.

For all the bad policies that the UK has held over history, I am proud of being British because we have more often than not woken up to the facts and, eventually redeemed ourselves. We have, like most human beings, often been wrong, but eventually looked to correct our poor decisions, even if only by a sincere apology.

So it is with great sadness that I look at what is happening to these ignored and desperate refugees trying so hard to reach our British shores and often in such dire and life-threatening circumstances. 

The actions and sentiments of our Prime Minister, Borris Johnson and our Foreign Secretary, Pritti Patel, have, in my opinion, brought shame to all British Citizens.

The refugees, cast out of their own countries, whose flight, more often than not is indirectly caused by us in the first place, is a human tragedy. We should all be thinking - "if that were us, how would we want to be treated"?

A sensible and compassionate response could be; how can we help? Lets set up a temporary resettlement programme and get these fellow human beings out or their dreadful predicament. Instead, we get a resentful nastiness that shows the very lowest side of the human character and reflects Britain in a selfish an uncaring light. 

These refugees do not have to be given permanent citizenship, but they should be helped back on their feet. Talking about them and referring to them in demeaning terms as if they are "the unclean" does the United Kingdom no service whatsoever. It reflects poorly on us all, particularly this Government and the Conservative Party.

These are people, human beings like us, who only want a chance and a fair shake at life. We should welcome them and help them. If that is deemed a weakness - then that weakness is our strength. In my understanding of what it means to be British - helping these people would be the British thing to do.

Rick - Suffolk - England - 12th August - 2020

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