Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Remember, remember, the 5th of November...

Brits around my age or older will probably recognise the quotation in the title. The whole rhyme goes:

Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot;
For I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.


Yes, today is Guy Fawkes Day, otherwise known as Bonfire Night, when people in the UK remember how Guy Fawkes, back in 1605, attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament. He failed in the attempt, and after being captured by the authorities was tortured, then received the appalling punishment of being hung, drawn and quartered.

And every year since then, the Brits celebrate November 5th with fireworks and a huge bonfire, on which a 'guy' (usually little more than a bunch of rags) is burned. Most of them probably know little about why Guy Fawkes tried to do what he did. Some of them might even think it would have been a good idea to destroy the Houses of Parliament. In the UK, we tend to distrust politicians. All of them. They're a product of the media, these days. They have make-up artists and speech writers, and plenty of advisors well versed in diplomacy... and - naturally - say what they think the public want to hear. What matters most of all is getting votes.

Or am I too cynical, having watched, and thoroughly enjoyed, 'Yes Minister' and 'Yes Prime Minister', and also having read the books?

I don't know who first said something to the effect that whoever we vote for, a politician gets elected. But it could well have been a Brit. We don't tend to be polarised in our opinions. Like the sky in November, they're usually various shades of grey.

So it's a bit ironic that most of the world woke up this November 5th to the announcement that Barack Obama is President of the USA. I, for one, am relieved to hear it; but I'm British enough that I don't think he's the answer to all the problems currently facing America, or indeed the world. I just think that he, and the package he stands for, is the preferred option out of the two possibilities.

Steve, a long-standing email friend from South Africa, wrote an excellent post entitled 'Politics and Pessimism' in his blog 'Notes from the Underground'. I had not thought about the similarities between Obama and Tony Blair, but now it's pointed out, I can see it. I did have high hopes for Blair, an apparently charming, polite, young man when he went into office as UK Prime Minister. But, as the old saying goes, 'All power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely'. I don't know if it's possible to be a world leader and avoid corruption, even if the initial intentions are good.

I was pleased to see an article on the BBC news site, which I also agree with whole-heartedly: President Obama and the World.

And for those who are convinced that all Christians should have voted for McCain purely on his pro-life position, this post - and the many comments that follow - is thought-provoking: The One-Issue Abortion Vote.

1 comment:

AutumnRose said...

I found your blog via the English Muffin. I like your balanced, thoughtful writing :)
God bless!
AR x