Republican for a day
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