Tuesday, June 05, 2012
Britons turn out in droves to celebrate their beloved Monarch
On the 60th anniversary of her reign I too say: "God save the Queen"! -- JR
The threat of rain didn't dampen the Jubilee celebrations on the banks of the Thames today, as one million people turned out on the streets of London to enjoy the 1,000-boat Royal flotilla.
Pageant organisers said despite the weather, the huge crowds they had prepared for had turned up to revel in proceedings.
However, the enormous numbers of visitors created chaos on tubes and trains, with packed carriages meaning passengers were unable to board.
Transport for London warned people not to try and watch the flotilla from the already packed viewing platforms. 'The Diamond Jubilee Pageant viewing areas are now full; please avoid and find an alternative location from which to view the event,' TfL said.
TfL said that they were 'coping' with the hundreds of thousands using transport links close to the river, and that they were running extra trains to cope with demand, but that they had had to divert several bus routes due to the pageant.
Overground train operators also came under fire for apparently failing to lay on extra trains.
Travellers took to Twitter to express their frustration at the services, some saying that travel operators appeared to be laying on a regular Sunday service.
But despite frustration for some revellers, most remained upbeat and determined to catch a glimpse of the spectacle on the Thames.
Among them were friends Sarankumar Chandrasekar, 22, and Suhail Vilangil, 25, who said they were proud to see London's 'greatest moment' after moving to the UK from India two years ago.
Mr Chandrasekar, who now lives in Stratford, east London, said: 'This is the greatest moment for London so it's not something you can miss. 'It's a proud moment for us to be here and see the Queen from only 50 metres away.'
Mr Vilangil added: 'We wouldn't let a small thing like rain put us off. There are so many people here who have been so friendly.'
This was the Britain we feared we'd lost... in full sail once more
What a fantastic, glorious, emotional, quite overwhelming spectacle. It wasn’t just that it was flawlessly executed. It wasn’t just that, as billed in advance, it would provide a sight that people would never have seen before.
It was also a triumphant restatement and reaffirmation of a Britain that people love so deeply but which so many fear may have been lost for ever.
Well, here it was still, in all its touching magnificence. Once again, the monarchy allowed people to connect through powerful symbolism to their collective history and their identity as a nation. And what a stroke of genius it was to use the river to make that visceral connection.
An estimated one million people packed onto the banks of the Thames to cheer the Queen as the pageant of some 1,000 boats proceeded in perfect formation past the great landmarks of the city.
The monarch being rowed in pomp and grandeur up the river is an image which goes straight back to the Middle Ages. The Thames, etched into England’s consciousness with engravings, drawings and paintings showing its central role in the life of the nation, was historically used for coronations, processions and pageants of great splendour.
Yesterday’s pageant was not just magnificent but deliberately conjured up images which connected the Queen to sources of pride for both the monarchy and the nation, as well as to the Queen’s own history.
The grand row-barge that led the procession was called Gloriana, the name given to the first great Queen Elizabeth who presided over a triumphant period in English history.
The barge which carried the present Queen was called the Spirit of Chartwell, conjuring up the home of Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister who saved Britain from tyranny and who welcomed back the new Queen from Kenya after the death of her father, King George Vl — and whose own body after his death was borne in state on the very same river.
The bells of the churches lining the route of the pageant rang out as the Queen passed by, just as they had done in medieval times — and also when World War II, in which the then Princess Elizabeth had played her own role in defending the nation, came to an end.
Putting this pageant onto river boats touched yet further deep and emotional chords. The great artery of the Thames is a symbol of the now too-often overlooked fact that this island kingdom was always a maritime nation.
How poignant and moving, therefore, to see the vast flotilla of row-boats, with their oars dipping and their flags from the Commonwealth fluttering, passing the Queen’s barge as the bells started to peal.
This beautiful and majestic river, so dearly loved by so many, was now transformed into an exquisite spectacle.
Behind the royal barge, the 50-strong contingent of ‘little ships’ which had helped defend the nation in its darkest hour at Dunkirk were, in addition, a powerful reminder of the period when the very best of the British character had been on such epic display.
And so was it not incidentally rather sad — if not emphasised in an intentionally pointed gesture — that the Royal Yacht Britannia, which the Queen loved so much and whose launch yesterday conveyed her to the Spirit of Chartwell with yachtsmen from Britannia standing to attention on board, was so cavalierly decommissioned?
For Britannia was not some kind of extravagance, as was so vulgarly assumed in philistine political circles.
It was a symbol of Britain’s maritime identity, which helped cement that identity through such symbolism — like the monarchy itself.
That’s why yesterday’s pageant was far more than just a tremendous spectacle. It’s why this whole four-day Jubilee celebration is more than just an excuse for an enormous national party. It’s why it’s more even than just a celebration of having achieved six decades on the throne.
Its real value lies in the wonderful transformative effect upon the nation of the monarchy itself, which through such events brings out once again the best in people. It does so by bringing the nation together in what unites rather than divides. As people said yesterday over and over again, it’s the coming together that’s so joyous. They suddenly find that they all have something that they share and want to celebrate together.
As a result, the nation’s distinctive identity reasserts itself in all its idiosyncrasy.
How very British, after all, that the whole thing was carried off with such aplomb yesterday in the pouring rain, with the stoical British — in their macs, cagoules and even camping out overnight under their umbrellas — refusing to allow the weather to dampen their enjoyment and determination to celebrate.
And what they are celebrating, they say, is their Queen and their country. For through such an opportunity to express their pride in their monarch, they are able to express their pride in their country.
And how! Everywhere you look there’s red, white and blue bunting, red white and blue balloons — and, of course, everywhere the Union flag.
If the emotional resonance of the spectacle tightened the throat yesterday, it was surely this unaffected pride of the people in their Queen and their straightforward but no less deep love of their country that really brought tears to the eye.
This is because there is such an enormous, latent, pent-up feeling of patriotism — that most decent and inspiring of emotions which, in our degraded public discourse, has now become all but forbidden to express for fear of being damned as a racist or xenophobe.
Patriotism is thus sneered at by the kind of people who unfortunately tend to dominate our culture and who lose no opportunity to be sour and mean-spirited about the monarchy and the people it so invaluably serves.
The fact is, however, that the monarchy is immensely popular. Having been through an extremely rough patch in the days after Princess Diana’s death, it is now supported by some 80 per cent of the people.
Indeed, the Queen is far more popular than any elected politician. A recent poll suggests that four times as many think she is more concerned than politicians about their own problems and three times as many believe she is more in touch with ordinary folk.
This is really quite astonishing, since she is the grandest person in the country — and, in addition, says virtually nothing in public, with her views remaining a mystery.
Yet the reason is surely obvious. Through a number of ways — such as her Christmas broadcasts, and what she says and does on her numerous walkabouts and at her garden parties and the like — she shows over and over again how deeply she feels for and cares for the people.
Politicians don’t care for the people. They merely want something from them — their vote. The Queen wants nothing from anyone. Her life really is devoted to serving the public.
In addition, people feel that the Queen is grounded. She is a country woman, rooted in the unchanging landscape of Britain and its natural rhythms. Look at what she wears — practical clothes that never change. She demonstrably does not, and would never, bow to fashion.
She is therefore utterly, totally, eternally reliable. She embodies authenticity in an age of charlatanry and spin. Which all goes to show how all the talk of ‘toffs’ being out of touch is so very wide of the mark.
The deeper reason people love her — and they do love her — is that she represents a steadfast point in a tumultuously changing, often disturbing or terrifying world. People feel that so much of Britain’s identity and culture is being lost or trampled underfoot.
For example, the country seems to have lost to Europe much of its ability to govern itself. Its economic outlook is dire. It appears to be steadily destroying its ability to defend itself by military means. The fundamentals of education, faith and family have splintered. It no longer seems to know what its role in the world should be.
The Queen stands above all of that. She embodies characteristics that never change and that the people deeply admire. She stands for steadfast Christian belief, duty and self-discipline. And as the embodiment of the nation, she reflects these virtues back to the nation and makes it feel better about itself.
In an era of deepening flux and chaos, to have such a ‘rock in a stormy sea’ becomes ever more important to people. So the notion that in an inexorably changing society the monarchy becomes evermore irrelevant is the exact opposite of the truth.
The popularity of the monarchy is thus very largely centred on the personality on the Queen herself. She is simply a royal superstar.
Listen to those who have occasion to speak to her on a regular basis — Prime Ministers, the Archbishop of Canterbury — and you hear them all testify to her remarkable wisdom, keen observation and kindness.
The people see other virtues in her with which they closely identify. She is stoical, she never makes a fuss, but just gets on with it. That’s the spirit of Britain: just getting on with it.
Through her iron sense of duty and service, she is also selfless. The nation feels loved and supported by someone who so demonstrably cares for it. This is an unconditional commitment. Unlike politicians, the Queen has never, would never, let her people down.
This is why elected presidents simply can’t compete with a constitutional monarch. The first duty of the embodiment of a nation is to unite that nation. Anyone who is elected is necessarily partisan and divides a nation.
Of course, the popularity of the monarchy can never be taken for granted. Prince Charles and Prince William, if they ascend to the throne, will themselves have to work hard to maintain it.
People often say — only half whimsically — that they hope the Queen will never die. While she is on the throne, they feel safe. After that, they fear, the Britain they know and cherish really will disappear.
The Queen is a person of cast-iron faith — not just religious faith, but faith in her people and her country. She therefore stands for hope in the future.
It is perhaps that characteristic most of all that not just her heirs but all who aspire to rule us should learn from her majestic example.
Canada's War on Religion and Parental Freedom
It is perhaps ironic that legislation purporting to combat bullying is being advanced by the biggest bully of them all – government – as the progressives in Ontario are busy drafting Bill 13 to force Catholic schools to set-up “gay-straight alliance clubs” within their institutions.
The Ontario government already compels conscientious Christian parents to pay twice for their children’s education, but this latest attack on religious freedom signals an ever-growing and disturbing intolerance and totalitarianism which should be of grave concern to all freedom-loving Canadians.
Recall the case of Jessie Sansome, the 26-year-old Kitchener father of four who was summarily arrested and strip searched while his children were seized by family services and his home ransacked by armed police. The entire incident resulted from overzealous school officials over reacting to his four-year-old daughter drawing a man with a gun in her kindergarten class. No charges were laid and Sansome was freed and reunited with his children after being detained for several hours. As disturbing as this case is, comments and reaction from government and school officials after the fact exacerbate the seriousness of the situation.
Although no formal apology was ever issued, Superintendent of the Waterloo Region District School Board commented to media, “We do work hand in hand with families because we co-parent”(1). The head of the local child and family services agency, Alison Scott, also commented to reporters that “She would do everything the same way tomorrow”(2). If ever we needed a stark example of the itchy trigger finger of the nanny state, its arrogance and willingness to unleash naked force against us, the Sansome case is it. If it seems the bureaucracy is unrepentant that’s because it is, and Bill 13 is merely an extension of this attitude, that we are the government and we have every right to parent your child as you do. How have we come to this? How is it that we have been utterly subjugated and stripped of our right to protection from the brutality of the state? Sadly, Bill 13 and the Sansome case are but two examples of the tyranny of progressivism, Marxism and statism that are consuming our once-free society.
Statists and progressives seek to utterly control and dominate every aspect of our lives
Statists and progressives seek to utterly control and dominate every aspect of our lives, be it the cars we drive, the foods we eat, the appliances we use, how much power we consume, which doctor cares for us or who we can hire if we are an employer. Even our thoughts and speech are controlled according to whichever politically correct view suits the current and temporary upstart politician looking for re-election. But when the state imposes and interjects itself between us, our children and our God, we must draw an impassable line. To utterly submit to a state that seeks to dominate our bodies, minds and spirit – as Marxist ideology seeks to do - is to surrender our fundamental freedom, morality and spirituality to suit a superficial and ideologically driven agenda. Such a mindset runs contrary to any measure of human rights and dignity, not only on a common sense or empirical level, but also according to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; a document which purports to protect individual freedom of conscience and religion, freedom of thought, belief, expression and opinion, and freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
But as all bullies do they heap injury upon injury, injustice upon injustice on their weaker victims. Most conscientious Christian parents – as well as many non-religious ones – are deeply concerned with the abysmal state of our bloated and dysfunctional government-run public education system. Reports of under-performance within government-run schools are rampant and the level of remedial classes taken by children entering universities from high schools is reaching epidemic proportions. One has to wonder what children are learning in their first 12 years in the public school system since they are utterly lacking even basic reading, writing and math skills once they graduate to university. Desperate parents are forced to rescue their children from the public school system, in order to give them the best chance for success and a bright future, in spite of the many barriers that government puts up.
Parents who choose to educate their children privately or at home make tremendous financial and time investments. Ontario currently spends an astonishing $75B annually on education, or about $9,500(3) per student; a cost that all parents must pay, regardless of whether their children use the system or not. So on top of the criminal level of taxes that alternative education parents must shoulder – while getting absolutely no value in return – they must also pay annual private tuition fees that can run from $3,000 to $12,000 or more annually. Clearly this is a burden, especially for families of modest income. In addition, many parents spend a tremendous amount of time transporting their children to private schools since no bus system exists, and many private schools are located far away from student homes. The situation for home schooling is even worse since it requires parents to forgo working in order to spend the six hours a day teaching their children. In spite of the crushing costs, many parents, even those with modest incomes, willingly make the sacrifice since enrolling their children in the broken public system is simply unacceptable.
Why is it so outrageous that conservative, religious parents want to educate their children according to their deeply held morals and beliefs?
One has to ask, why is it so outrageous that conservative, religious parents want to educate their children according to their deeply held morals and beliefs? Isn’t this the most basic and fundamental right that every parent should have? Why must statists impose the will of a tiny – and arbitrary - minority on these parents when homosexuality runs contrary to their deeply held beliefs? Statists and progressives detest the fact that Christian teachings have always, and always will, be fundamentally opposed to homosexuality. And rather than accepting and respecting the wishes of religious parents, progressives seek to impose their will and destroy the familial bonds and cohesion that religion brings to the homes of Christians. What’s next, forcing Muslim religious schools to teach Christianity? Or why not force homosexuals and atheists to study Christian theology? Who decides which rights have primacy?
But it is the will of the statist and progressive, to fundamental transform our society according to political correctness and collectivist ideologies. Look how politics utterly fails when managing public works – has building a road or school ever come in on budget or on schedule? Look at the horrible state of our justice system, our health system, the public schools and the economy. It seems that everything government touches is a disaster. Yet we are to trust this small cabal of temporary, politically motivated oligarchs to dictate to us how we should live, what we are allowed and not allowed to teach our children, and how we practice our religion? Perhaps such a state of affairs was acceptable in Stalin’s Russia, in Mao’s China, or in Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and look where that lead. But when similar ideologies foment in Western societies, there is cause for great concern. Are Christian parents teaching their kids to be violent, to be anarchist, bigots and haters? Of course not, rather, they are passing down the very traditions and values that have built Canada into the wondrous and tolerant society that it is. Sadly these values are slowly being chipped away as Canada is starting to resemble some third-rate tin pot dictatorship.
Ontario is a province that has already legalized bawdy houses and prostitution
Ontario is a province that has already legalized bawdy houses and prostitution. Ontario schools already promote alternative lifestyles, promiscuity, birth control and liberalized attitudes towards the traditional definition of family and marriage. The public school systems have already become little more than propaganda and Marxist indoctrination mills; capitalism is vilified, environmental hysteria, global citizenship, open borders, government and unfettered multiculturalism are promoted all with a healthy helping of liberal guilt and self loathing. To many parents, like all government programs, the public school systems have become little more than rackets and profit centres for powerful unions and bureaucrats, where children are seen as little more than chips to be bargained with at contract time. And perhaps the biggest indignity of all, we are forced to hand over a great deal of our private property, under the penalty of incarceration or worse, to pay for the stinking system. It is because of the politicizing of the school system, its unaccountability, poor performance and the ever-growing promotion of anti-family, secular and liberalized sexual attitudes within schools that force conservative and Christian parents to shoulder the enormous costs of alternative schooling. Yet the statists and progressives are loath to let go of their power over these individuals and they seek to impose their will through draconian measures such as Bill 13.
Whenever the mastermind progressives in government want to foist their latest “save the world using other people’s money” initiative they are compelled to manufacture a crisis to get unsuspecting taxpayers to go along. Bill 13 is just the latest issue du jour that gives progressives de facto justification to run rough shod over the rights of certain groups to appease special interests. The sponsors of Bill 13 would have us belief that Christians are all hard-core homophobes and that bullying of gay students has reached such epidemic proportions in private and Christian schools that only the good hand of government can rescue us from ourselves. And so the finger waving, guilt and mass hysteria rolls along in full force in spite of there being absolutely no empirical data to support the crisis claim. Charles Lewis and Colin Perkel, in their May 25, 2012 National Post article summed it up,
“The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada has also argued that there are no statistics to backup the idea that gay students need special attention. Statistics on bullying are not easy to come by. However, in 2006 the Toronto District School Board conducted a study to determine causes of bullying. The most cited reason was “body image” (38% in grades 7 to 8; 27% in grades 9 to 12), followed by grades or marks (17% and 12% respectively), and 7% in all grades noted language as a cause. The next three categories at 5% or lower were gender, religion and income.”
Church groups were feeding the poor and hungry, sheltering the destitute and saving orphans long before any enterprising politician got the idea of cashing in on the misery
Church groups were feeding the poor and hungry, sheltering the destitute and saving orphans long before any enterprising politician got the idea of cashing in on the misery. These church groups did a far better job than any government and today private Christian schools outperform their government counterparts in spite of the endless resources and near monopoly that government has over education. But the progressive’s lust for control and unfettered power is boundless, and all Canadians must act now to put government back in its rightful place. Bill 13 represents an issue that is bigger than just a small group of Christians and private schools being pushed around by a tyrannical government. It lays bare the progressive dogma that the end justifies the means, that the quest for radical egalitarian utopia justifies the use of force against anyone who dares to stand in the way of so-called progress. Christians, like the American founders, understand that rights are inalienable and God-given, that no politician, bureaucrat or special interest can bestow – or by extension take away – a person’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Consequently, to the Ontario government and to the special interests that are pulling their strings we have this message; keep your hands off our kids and you will never come between us, our children, our faith and our God.
How atheists misunderstand religion
It has a rightness of feeling
Many atheists despise religion because it is not true. They wonder that anyone could be dumb enough to believe such fantastical things as are found in the mythology of religion - all religions, since none are based on a scientific, post-enlightenment understanding of the universe.
While their devotion to truth is admirable, they are missing the point. People are not religious because they have become convinced of the truth of the myth. Rather, religion is about psychological nourishment; it's about feeding the human soul.
Let's consider the Christian faith. When people go to church they are told that they will live again with their loved ones who have died. They are told that they are loved by God. They are told that the wrongs that they have done to others will be forgiven. They are told that evil people will be punished and good people will be blessed and rewarded, in the next life if not in this one.
In short, Christianity fits the shape of the hole in the human heart. It provides an answer for all the features of our world that are tragic and repulsive: we are self-aware beings with unlimited ambitions but tiny, limited lifespans, we are lonely and hunger for love all our lives, we are shamed by our hurtful deeds and words but we cannot undo them, and we wonder at ruthless people prospering while kind-hearted folks are taken advantage of.
This message of hope is wrapped in a profound aesthetic and meditative experience, together with a community of the faithful. It is paired with an imperative to practice universal benevolence - goodwill towards all human kind. This generates an ethic of community, charity, and service that is one of the most attractive features of Christianity.
Atheists who attempt to convert religious people by attacking the truth of the mythology are practicing a futile tactic. They don't understand the human psyche. They don't understand the deep needs that drive the billions of religious people in the world. When they do, they will become better at communicating their message. That's why atheists and religious people tend to talk past each other so much. They have two very different models of religion in their minds. The atheist mind is focused on the truth claims of religion, the religious on the relgious experience.
I enjoy participating in religious experiences, even though I am an intellectual atheist. I recognize that the peace, the self-insight, the comfort that comes from religious practice and meditation and prayer makes me a happier and healthier person. It's not for everybody, but it's certainly for people like me. I despair at the tragedies of this life, and I long for a better moral ethic than is offered by the materialistic nihilism of this world. I am becoming more culturally Christian, and as I do I grow more proud of who I am. Christianity encourages me to focus my attention outward, on the needs of others, rather than selfishly mulling over all the things I am missing in my life.
If you would have told me 11 years ago that I wold be going to church again when I was 29, I would have been incredulous. But here I am. What drives me is my sincere hope is that I may be a blessing to all who know me. If I am, I know the Christian ethic will play a part.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.