Respect is one of those things that should be given freely if it means anything.

Forced respect is priceless. It is a kind of show or pantomime, where people go through the motions of proper reverence, but only out of a sense of duty, or because they have no other choice.

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Before the Queen was finally laid to rest this week, amid astonishing fanfare and scenes of ceremony, thousands of people queued for hours outside Westminster Abbey to pay their respects.

To these people, mourning a king who had reigned all his life, and who was held in great affection, I have no doubt that the respect was truly and most gladly paid.

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But what troubled me was how the period of official mourning, including the day of the Queen’s funeral, became – in some cases – an exercise in enforced respect.

I mean, canceling scheduled hospital appointments. Really? With horrendous waiting lists, and a harsh winter yet to come, and the NHS barely able to function, stopping people – once again – from seeing their doctors is wrong.

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In fairness, there was no indication that the Royal Family expected to postpone hospital appointments or close GP surgeries in honor of the Queen.

Rather, it seems to emerge from within the bureaucracy, which increasingly seeks to dictate what we should all think and do.

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And many of us are willing to comply, or indeed insist on complying even more.

There were some funny examples of confusion over proper mourning etiquette.

On the parenting forum, MumsNet, a woman asked if it was okay to wash her on the day of the funeral, as long as she stuck to black things.

Remarkably, this was no joke. The woman insisted: “I’m serious, I don’t want to offend. But the weather is terrible for the rest of the week.”

In another rare credible example, supermarket chain Morrisons turned down the volume of its checkout beeps, to help create “a calmer atmosphere in store” following the Queen’s d*ath.

Bonkers. How about a hushed sound as your four-pack of baked beans rolls through the checkout, some kind of homage to the late king?

If anything, it trivializes the opportunity.

Meanwhile, British Cycling had to do a skidding U-turn after it “strongly” recommended that people should not ride their bikes — anywhere — during funerals. This part of the official guidance from cycling’s governing body was removed after complaints from members, but there was still a directive to avoid club rides on bank holidays.

Why? Just very disrespectful, I guess.

What really angered me, however, was the Church of Ireland minister in Dungeon who wanted to close the local eatery on the day of the Queen’s funeral.

In an email to the Dungeon Regeneration Fund, which runs the ‘community fridge’, the Rev Mark Looney said committee members formally endorsed the closure of the free food facility “as a mark of respect for those living in the Dungeon environment. as those for whom the King’s d*ath had occurred. An important occasion to mark with deep respect.”

So people who can’t afford to eat or feed their children, should go without food for days to not only honor the Queen, but for those who mourn her? How can Rev Looney not see what a heartless delusion this is?

It remained open, but that’s the kind of thing that happens when respect becomes something willingly given rather than demanded.

But respect for arms only leads to more intolerance and division, especially when authorities are involved.

Embarrassingly, in both England and Scotland, anti-monarchy campaigners were cautioned by the police – and in some cases arrested – for peaceful protest actions, including the ‘Not My King’ sign. was

Given our own, highly fraught relationship with British rule, this is unlikely to happen here in Northern Ireland. But the point is that there should not be anywhere that claims to be a democracy.

Forcing people to kneel before hereditary monarchy, insisting on absolute compliance, and crushing the slightest forms of dissent: these are not the characteristics of a truly free society.

I shudder when I see how conformist we are becoming, how deferential, and how easily manipulated by official groupthink and the arbitrary use of power.

Authority without accountability is not worthy of our respect.

#Fionola #Meredith #respect #arms #leads #host #problems

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