Friday, 9 July 2010

We don't need another hero

Before I commit my heresy I'll make one thing perfectly clear.  King William III and the events of the Glorious Revolution are something I consider worthy of significant acknowledgement and consider it regrettable that it is not given more attention in the rest of the United Kingdom.  Equally when it comes to the Siege of Derry I think it deserves more attention that it gets.  It was the Ulster Protestant event of the Glorious Revolution and regrettable that it is seen as the secondary event here.  I put my money where my mouth is and try to actively participate in the celebration of both.

However, the manner in which history is remembered is important to how it influences individual and collective consciousness.  Within any significant period in history there are a range of events and individuals who can be prioritised for attention.  It is this choice of emphasis is important.  The iconography of William on the White Horse and the emphasis upon the breaking of the boom by the Mountjoy encourages a somewhat debilitating approach to problems. Namely if we hold our ground long enough a saviour will arrive over the horizon. (It also is a very good way of justifying inaction). 

This thinking was often displayed during the troubles.  The hope was that a change of government or the horror of a particular atrocity would lead to a different approach.  The hope was never fulfilled.  Arguably, the UUP latching on to David Cameron for dear life could be a modern manifestation of this syndrome.  None came because they aren't there and probably will not be for the foreseeable future.

This lack of a saviour is an outworking of the complete loss of nerve that pervades the British establishment most definitely since WWII but has its origins in the slaughter of WWI.  The Falklands War was the most significant break with this but it proved an aberration rather than its demise.  This lack of a saving hero should not be the basis for despondency.  It simply means that it is up to us to tackling the issues that face us.

This is a hard sell to the average Ulster Prod.  This is were you run into another debilitating myth. Namely, that the Republicans are near omnipotent when it comes to politics.  They aren't.  The Ulster Protestant ability to endure or to use the more expressive Ulster-Scots, to thole, meant the murderous goal of a United Ireland was not achieved. They can be out-thought, out-worked and out-manoeuvred.  To do so does not involve a dilution or abandonment of Ulster Protestant identity.  A work ethic is supposed to be a defining trait so perhaps we should talk about it a bit less and put it into action.

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