Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Americanisation of England

Small World - isn't it!

A bumper issue of the Sunday Times this week provides a thematically interesting perspective on some current issues.

First, on page one is the story, “Children's oath to Queen”. Lord Goldsmith thinks that this kind of procedure might strengthen the understanding of children as to what it means to be British. The article goes on to equate this proposed oath to the Pledge of Allegiance, which is a very common way of starting the day in American schools.

I can recite it by heart: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, under God with liberty and justice for all.

Actually, I, apparently, got it a bit wrong. Here's the words Wikipedia thinks are correct:

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Perhaps the “under God and indivisible” have switched places in modern times. I believe the indivisible was traditionally first because of the Civil War – but I could be wrong. Either way, since I was last in school over 40 years ago - I didn't do too bad in the “anti-Alzheimers” stakes!

The point is that the Pledge of Allegiance is relevant to Americans every day. It hearkens back to the time when all Americans were resisting European ideas of government. It reminds citizens in a moving kind of way that their birthright and heritage are still relevant today.

I'm not sure this “Americanism” would transfer very well to the U.K. Because the U.K. pledge would be to the Monarch, it is too personal. People who didn't like the Queen or any future Monarch would object.

My view: it's another government gimmick.

Page 4 informs us that the U.K. armed forces are to get Purple Hearts for wounds received in battle. The government would like to see the public's support of the Armed Services be affirmed and be made more visible. Reacting, perhaps, to news that personnel at RAF Wittering are told not to wear their uniforms in Peterborough, the government's response it to call for more public award ceremonies to present medals to soldiers. America is held up as a model of how a nation should honour those who serve in the Forces.

If a week is a long time in politics, then a generation is a life time in honouring soldiers. The government should remember how the American public's condemnation of the Vietnam war and the soldiers who fought in it nearly tore the country apart and, it can be convincingly be argued, gave us Nixon's paranoia and Watergate.

Looks like the government floating an idea in response to what it perceives as a real public concern. Not working for me.

Lastly, we have the article, “Earth's secrets kept in lunar ark”. It's Arthur C. Clarke and 2001 all over. This time it's the European Parliament who are trying to outdo the Americans. Let's bury an obelisk on the Moon and fill it with Earth's secrets. All we have to do is persuade NASA to play ball and we can get the whole thing under way soon.

What happens when the “future apes” eventually evolve to take our place – in 8 to 10 million years or so, and whose job it will be to repopulate the planet after we destroy it discover the thing buried on the Moon? I would love to be around to see that one!

Because we will have archived all the old films we won't need a HAL 9000 computer to work out the answer!

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