Poetry – Between all the horrors is pride

Between all the horrors is pride

Between the spew stains on the pavement,

The game shows and the squeals,

There’s a culture trying to be heard.

Between the concentration camps,

The genocides and arrogant superiority,

There’s a history to be proud of.

Despite the cruelty, the belligerence,

Viciousness and self-righteousness,

There sits a worthy spirit of generosity.

It is the ‘betweens’ that I wish to focus on.

In the ‘betweens’ I can feel affinity.

The ‘betweens’ are where I feel at home.

Opher 11.2015

Between all the horrors is pride

Walking through a city centre on a Saturday night with all the lads leering around with their shirts hanging out and the girls, made up to the nines in their tight micro-skirts, tottering around on high heels, on the pull in a world of drunken mindlessness, it is hard to find the pride in your culture. Sex, booze and incessant back-ground pop. It doesn’t add up to much.

Turning on the telly to the endless stream of game shows and competitions with their ubiquitous squeals, (an import from America where squealing is the norm), it is hard to find anything of substance.

Looking back through history with the ruthlessness of the British Empire, it’s suppression of the ‘natives’, the genocide on the non-compliant, the in-built superiority emanating from Rugby and Eton but infiltrating down to the most base and uncouth soldier, and the invention of the concentration camp as a weapon of war, it is hard to feel satisfaction.

Looking back at our past with its religious orthodoxy, intolerance, oppression, vile class system, terrible inequality, cruel torturing, war-like disposition and social injustice, it is hard to feel a sense of belonging.

Yet in between the shallowness, arrogance, stupidity, unfairness, victimisation, mindlessness, inequality and brutality, there are the glimmers of hope.

There is a spirit in the British that is proud and free. They reach out a hand to the underdog and find a way to respect those who are different. There is compassion and a history of standing up for justice. This was the country that abolished slavery that brought in trade unions that fought for democracy and social justice. This is a country that has produced more than its share of artists, writers, scientists, engineers, musicians and social reformers.

That is where I can take my pride. There is an in-between culture that has substance and worth that underlies the squeals, the drink and mindless garbage, the arrogance and superiority. That is my Britain.

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