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What does being british mean to you?


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Being British is: applauding the other team when they score. It’s being courteous to people serving me at a store. It’s giving way at a roundabout (somewhat nerve-wracking here) It’s helping my elderly next door neighbour for the pleasure of it. It’s respecting the values and traditions that were instilled into me by my parents along with a strong community spirit. It’s feeling profoundly satisfied with a Monarch who has served us faithfully for over 50 years
Linda, Sydney, Australia

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As a British-born dual citizen living in Australia, I treasure my innate British values as a moral compass that I suspect that citizens of "newer" countries do not have. Britain to me is like an old-fashioned parent: it looks after you if you're good, but doesn't lavish you with praise like the Americans would, lest you become big-headed; it will also look after you if you're bad, providing you show the appropriate level of remorse and promise to do better next time. If you're really bad, you're held up as a bad example and punished in front of your peers as a deterrent, but it won't abandon you
Lorraine, Australia

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Being British is to proud of our history and its Christian values. It is about defending our country, our freedom and these values. It is about integration and acceptance of our values. It is remembering those who have given up their lives for the same and be prepared, without question, to follow in their footsteps.
David Thijm, Stourbridge, United Kingdom

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Being British is a state of mind, not just a stamp on a passport or a place of birth. If you believe that right and wrong do exist and that the former is preferable, in tolerance for another’s views, in supporting his right to do something of which you disapprove as long as it does not materially harm others, and if you oppose the State interfering unnecessarily in people’s lives, you qualify as British.
William Vincent, Sevenoaks, United Kingdom

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As a British citizen living long term in Shanghai, China I have come to understand all that is great about being British. In Shanghai, when all are panicking around you, when it is considered acceptable to rush into a lift before you leave, to slam doors in other people's faces and push and shove in queues one comes to learn that there is a fundamental decency to being British. Superficial as these things are, they are fundamental to the way in which we deal with each other and also other cultures. Respect for other people, politeness and an understated personal appearance combined with an inner confidence, these are the values that are fundamental to being British
Chris, Shanghai, China

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To feel British is something you experience when you are away from Britain. Its green countryside. Safety when walking the streets. The fact that we band together against adversity. So many things have been invented in our country
Barry Ashcroft, Barnet, Herts, United Kingdom

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Being British means having a respect and intellectual understanding of our institutions, and the continuity of our island life that they represent. It is to understand and accept that change comes about through evolution in society, not revolution. It means that when in doubt, we try and do the right thing and deploy a heavy dose of common sense. It means that when our political party does not win an election, and no matter how fiercely we disagree with the winners, that we become the Loyal Opposition. It means that we will tolerate any point of view, however outrageous, until it stops tolerating us. It means being able to laugh at ourselves and never take offence. It means that we will argue amongst ourselves, but be instantly united if our country is threatened. And, most importantly, it means that our patriotism is intellectual and born of a conviction that does not need to be expressed in words or flags because we are supremely comfortable and confident with who we are as a people.
Mark Newdick, Danbury, CT (Expat), USA

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Living for last three years in Paris I now see more clearly the great British traits: tolerance, understatement, intelligence, the willingness to listen to others (sadly lacking in some other places), a respect for the law without being subservient to it, a love of our countryside and our monuments, and above all the joy of conversation and a good joke shared (preferably over a warm pint). Add to this a dash of eccentricity and a good dose of looneys, and you have a healthy and heady mix which will continue to survive the worst the world can throw at us. The steel of the nation has been wrought from the fire of its history
Andrew Wilson, Paris, France

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Being British to me means that if we are tasked to do something we don’t just ‘do it’, we embrace it, we do it with style, panache and enthusiasm. I have no doubt that the world will see the best Olympics ever in 2012. Simply because we always produce the goods when we are given an opportunity to prove our worth to the world. Just wait and see
Steve Searle, Portsmouth, United Kingdom

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Britain is a beacon to the world. The best and brightest individuals from across the world want to study in Britain because of what its institutions have to offer. There is no need to “reinvent” Britishness for the post-colonial, post-devolution age. The essence of what it is to be British is already there, and it can be found in the world around you. Ethereal though it may be, “Britishness” cannot be easily summed up – however it includes an undying belief in the principles of democracy and the rule of law; a desire to construct a society that is free, just and inclusive; and, above all else, “Britishness” is stubborn hope
Andrew Bowles, Ontario, Canada

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