I'm not entirely sure where this has come from, but these past few months I've found myself gradually becoming more and more involved politically and identifying myself differently. We all remember what it was like as JWs, no political involvement whatsoever, no national pride, no singing the national anthem or saluting the flag etc. The Watchtower literature always shown artists renditions of nationalism or politics like this:
Nationalism and politics were always blamed for causing divisions. OK, they do to some extent, but that's not their purpose.
When I first woke up and left I still held on to the belief that "I'm not British, I'm a British citizen" or "I swear allegiance to no country". It kind of made me feel a little better and more enlightened than "those people who blindly go along with singing the anthem". But then... I don't know... I've slowly started to refer to the UK as "my country" in conversation and in writing. I didn't notice it at first, but I caught myself saying it. Usually I'd correct myself but I didn't this one time and thought about it later. I wore a poppy leading up to remembrance day the first year I left the cult. I did it initially simply because it was always verboten in the JWs.
Yes, this is my country.
Yes, I do care what happens to my country.
Yes, I would like a say in who gets elected to represent me in parliament.
Yes, I do appreciate how fortunate I am to be born in a country which is advanced and relatively wealthy. I had no say in this of course, but fortune could have led me to be born in China, Ethiopia or, heaven forbid, the USA (joke!).
And then the world cup happened (the soccer world cup to our American friends). I always support Germany in the world cup because a) England are usually shit and b) I have German ancestry which has fascinated me since I was a boy. But this time, England did really well. Better than Germany in fact. And I felt... proud. Every four years, England becomes united - Scousers and Mancs, Geordies and Cockneys, all in one crowd rooting for the same side.
And then there's the flag. I used to laugh at those people who flew the flag. I would probably never fly it casually, but now I would definitely fly it for a national event. I look at it now and think of my grandad who fought in WWII. His dad who fought (and lost his sight) in WWI. And those who went before them. The flag itself is just cloth, yet now I look at it and feel pride. I'm not for one moment saying my country is better than any other - but I feel a new found sense of belonging and duty.
I'm British. I have a Queen. I can (and will) vote to elect a suitable representative of this country. I will defend my country's honor and name if it's being besmirched and - which is a complete 180 from the old me - I would join up to defend it if we were at a WWII situation and fascists were carving up Europe and threatening my land. I will wear a poppy to remember the dead and those who fought for Britain, that includes those from the colonies who fought for us.
However, I do still feel that my country doesn't have a national anthem, it has a song about the Queen (god save the Queen). Plus, as an atheist it annoys me that "god" is in there. But, I will sing it and feel teary eyed thinking of my grandad, great-grandad and whoever else fought for what I, and so many others, take for granted.
Sorry for the rant but it helps me to get this out. Especially in writing.
NOTE: For the non-UK readers, a "Scouser" is someone who comes from Liverpool (yours truly), a Manc is someone from Manchester, Geordie from Newcastle and a Cockney from London.