Republican for a day

Bah humbug

I’m not really bothered about the monarchy. I think it’s a peculiar anachronism that our Head of State is decided by accident of birth, but as a constitutional monarch, the Queen has no real power, and when you consider the sort of people who tend to get elected as councillors, mayors, MPs and even Prime Ministers, it often seems like quite a relief that this is one position that isn’t going to be won by grubby political manoeuvring. But for at least one day next week, during the Jubilee celebrations, I will turn into a staunch republican.

Well, not exactly – it’s not that I change my opinions all the time (although I’m not afraid of revising my position if necessary), it’s more that I react more to the behaviour of others the more I’m exposed to it. I suppose you could call me a contrarian or a nit-picker, either of which would be harsh but probably fair, but I prefer to think of it as having a tendency to identify errors, and wanting to correct one-sided cheerleading for a particular cause.

So when it seems like the whole country’s supporting a particular viewpoint, I’m likely to be found in the minority, raising objections that I feel are underrepresented and generally observing that it’s a bit more complicated than that. It isn’t so much that my views change, more that the views around me do, and in the name of balance, I feel compelled to offer my own form of correction. I suppose that makes me awkward and difficult, but it’s just how I am. If everyone else was shouting republican slogans, I’d probably come across as a monarchist.

Of course, while that’s a trait that tends to protect me from particularly extreme beliefs, it also means that I very often find myself on the fringes of any group I belong to. Seeing (and arguing) the opposite point of view doesn’t tend to help in being accepted as a member of a group, except possibly a debating society. But if I can see any room for argument, I’ll argue the point, because I care about truth and fairness, and like to see the full picture, rather than just one side.

That has interesting and uncomfortable implications for my beliefs and my search for answers. If I tend to kick out against any overstated or overrepresented viewpoint, might any conversion to atheism be followed by a period of rebellion against the stance I’ve just adopted? It’s something that concerns me – I’d like to be able to settle on a position, and I don’t want to go through the difficult process of leaving the church only to sidle back a little while later, but I know what I’m like, and it seems a very plausible scenario.

Ultimately, I’m frightened of my own character, which sounds odd. But if my fears were realised, I’d only have myself to blame.

Photo by HerryLawford, used under Attribution License


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About Recovering Agnostic

I'm Christian by upbringing, agnostic by belief, cynical by temperament, broadly scientific in approach, and looking for answers. My main interest at the moment is in turning my current disengaged shrug into at least a working hypothesis.

One response to “Republican for a day”

  1. 2012 and all that says :

    Like you, I’ve flitted from place to place in my opinion of the royal family over the last 20 years. As a teenager I was a bit of a republican, not staunchly so, but enough to hope that the abolition of monarchy would happen in my lifetime.

    In my twenties (I turned 22 the year Diana died) I had softened a little. I was willing to both criticise and defend the concept of constitutional monarchy in equal measure. I think the whole Diana thing was mishandled on both sides. I got annoyed at the wailing of public grief from the worshippers yet annoyed at the spectacular cock up that was the Crown’s PR machine back then.

    Today, now that I am in my late 30s I see it as making a valuable contribution to our society – if only rather cynically for the tourism. The wedding of Wills+Kate last year gave a bit more national pride after years of the mudslinging at the concept of Britishness by ZanuLabour.

    I do not want Charles to become King. He will interfere way beyond his right to do so (as he has done so already) and will make himself more unpopular than he already is.

    Things might change when William assumes the throne, he and Kate are incredibly popular and she has risen to the challenge far more than her mother-in-law did. Can they keep this up? I hope so and maybe we might learn to appreciate that though it might seem archaic on the outside, it can be made relevant in terms more substantial than our tourism aspirations.

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