The road not taken…

Early this morning I watched the House of Lords and the House of Commons presenting their condolences to King Charles III. Later I watched the solemn pomp and ceremony that carried the mortal remains of Queen Elizabeth II from Holyroodhouse to St. Giles.

I’m struck, more than anything else, with a sense of regret – of the road not taken. When the American colonies careened towards independence in the 1760s and ’70s, there was something greater in our grasp. With negotiation, we could have had American Members of Parliament, American Peers, and unity of the English speaking peoples throughout an Imperial Commonwealth. In the fullness of time, I like to speculate that America could have emerged as a center of gravity to rival the mother country within the Empire. 

But we didn’t. A few men in Boston didn’t want to pay three pence a pound on their tea. The rabble roused, a minority of the population set us off inexorably on the road to independence.  More fool us.

We say Americans have no interest in royalty. Our rapt attention during their great occasions – their births, weddings, and now their funerals – says differently. We’re still very much invested in ebbs and flows of the family of King George III. 

We could have been part of that great stream of history stretching back beyond the Conqueror, beyond Alfred, but here we are, simple spectators despite our ongoing and profound interest. I’m not advocating we turn back the clock. That particular ship has, sadly, sailed. But, God did we miss an opportunity.

We stand on guard for thee…

o-CANADIAN-FLAG-facebookTonight, in the face of the day’s events, I stand shoulder to shoulder with our neighbors to the north. This isn’t the post I intended to write tonight. It’s a post I’ve hoped to never write again – after the attacks in Spain and England, after the coldblooded killings of civilian journalists, after 13 years of hard war.

Whether this attack on Canada was the act of a single lunatic, “self radicalized” individuals, or a directed effort from those cowering further afield this is the work of terrorism. Our ability to adapt and respond to the existential threat of extremism in all of its forms, from within and without, is being tested. In attacking the great pillars of Western civilization, foreign and domestic enemies must find no purchase. They must not be allowed a foothold. They must be ripped out by root and stem and destroyed utterly.

I stand with our friends in Canada because it’s where they’ve stood when our roles were reversed. An attack on one, regardless of its source, is an attack on all.