Value? I think it depends how you interpret that. I don't think that being English makes me "naturally" better or worse than a Swede, or a Belgian, or a Turk, or a Korean, or a Peruvian, or whoever.
Maybe a Frenchman.
On the other hand...
Are national borders "arbitrary" and "meaningless"? Perhaps. In many cases. It's hard to escape the fact that in Britain, there are very natural borders. And in other countries, well, they did originate with different groups of people who had different ideas and indeed cultures separating themselves from one another. Those borders are long since gone, but the idea remains and still applies in many places, although of course in others it has become much more problematic: witness the messiness in the Balkans with the various different peoples intermingling, for example.
And one thing that, I think, strengthens English or British national identity is that we've had a pretty damn consistent border, for the thousandish years since the Normans floated over and took their inventory of cows and brambles and rakes. That's allowed for the development of a very strong national identity, bursting with history, culture, language and thought. Elsewhere, you don't really get the same. Mainland Europe has too fluid borders. North America and Australia haven't been around that long in their current state. South America and Africa, too, have been too subject to external influences. So Britain has what I think is one of the richest identities and cultures around. Japan is the only real parallel I can think of. And they went the whole hog and totally isolated themselves for a good while there. I'm not sure they even gave people a second referendum.
I don't know, I might be completely wrong. But it strikes me that we've had a smallish country full of people that's been free of foreign meddling for a long long time and that has meant there's a more consistent culture, for both better and worse. At the same time, we have, because of the whole Empire thing and having lots of boats and various other factors, had a fascinating mixture of cultures all mixed into our own, and so contemporary Britain is a real mongrel thing, but in a really good way (unless you're a retired colonel in Dorset I guess).
So yeah, I grew up in England and there is a lot about it that still resonates with me even though I buggered off abroad in my twenties. The splendid, varied countryside and the unique and magical connection people have with it. The language, with its unruliness and creative idiosyncrasies, and the endless possibilities and malleability. The teeming historical landscape, overflowing with literary and scientific and artistic giants. The BBC and the Beatles. Pubs and pies. The football and the cricket. The not being French. The comedy - Brits are funny. The class and social consciousness - people in Britain care, even when they're misguided or plain bigoted.
I can also remind myself of the binge-drinking aggro, the casual xenophobia, the inequality, the shoddy way we treat some of our architecture and nature, the baffling obsession with celebrities and reality TV...
So it's not all to be proud of and as I said, nothing that makes us better. But I think the culture and environment you grow up in and with have a deep and lasting effect on you, and I feel happy to have grown up where I did and, perhaps even more since I moved abroad, it is something that has a lot of value and worth for me.
Minnie Cheddars wrote:Baron got into a fight with some Satan’s Slaves over some culinary issue
Awful thing when that happens. I had a similar experience at a Tom Jones concert.