You Americans are a very patriotic bunch aren't y'all?
In American films and series, i always see images of flags hanging outside buildings, flags in the offices of police officers, flags outside peoples' houses and flags just EVERYWHERE. As a kid, i could never understand how on earth JWs had won so many "court victories" over mere flag-saluting and why it was always so prominent in the "schools" brochure until i noticed this State-side trend. This "flag-worship" was quite an alien concept to me until i moved to France and saw the abundance of Tricouleur flags (flying with equal status to the European Union flag) on government buildings, in offices, on schools and colleges etc. I also noted the high level of patriotism that the French in general have for their slogans, their anthem etc. I remember the first time i saw the front of the Parisian college in which i taught English. It had two large flags, a French flag and an EU flag, fluttering from two poles. As an exercise, i imagined that i was in England and i saw a "Union Jack" hoisted proudly like that in front of a state school... the mental image was just so... odd... so incongruous.
I think most of us contemporary Britons, in general, feel that flags represent an over-the-top, unreasonable sort of patriotism for us, and we often frown upon those who seem to weild that symbol in an "in-your-face" manner. Most flag wielders i've noticed today in the United Kingdom are usually minority extremists who are (excuse the NWT expression) "puffed up with pride". The actual English flag (red cross on white) has had a lot of bad publicity over the years, being associated with football hooliganism and the minority extreme right neo-nazi movement. The flag is also often seen hanging outside windows during World Cup season. The combined Union flag, though, is rarely seen apart from at official royal occasions and sporadic tourist shops and stalls. Recently, the Scottish and Welsh flags have become increasingly flown, showing a rejuvenated pride and spirit of celebration of diversity in the UK...
Patriotism in the UK, and in England especially, seems to occupy a less important part of our everyday life. St George's day usually passes with 99% of English people not even knowing its our National day, and very few people will acknowledge it with an inconspicuous red rose in their button hole, while St Patrick's day has become an international commercial holiday celebrated with fireworks and inordinate parades. British culture is very varied and mixed at the moment and most people are able to assimilate and contribute to the culture without having to label it and place their nationality on a pedestal. Many of us also shy away from the word "pride", as do many Europeans.
Flag flying means different things for different cultures. It can do a great job of uniting a group of people to a single cause and a single identity, but it can also lead to an inflation of ego and a divisive feeling of US and THEM.
Our Union flag is a solemn and shy creature. It is properly used in a context to show how grateful we are to be living in the relative freedom of Britain, a rich western country, while celebrating our diversity and uniqueness... but it is also appropriate and decent, while doing so, to acknowledge much of the bad that has been accomplished in its name...
Thats just how i feel about our flag. How do you feel about yours?
Happy belated 4th of July, people Hope you had a good one
(and sorry if this post sounded like an Awake! article, i just... can't... help it... sometimes... *nnnrrrgghh*)