The Scottish Referendum

You can’t really have a blog about life in Scotland without addressing the Independence Referendum held this past week. Just is case you may not know me personally or can’t conclude from my previous writings, I am whole-heartedly in support of not just Scottish Independence but all movements that seek democratic self-determination.

It was the most amazing, exciting experience that I feel so privileged to have been able to part take in such of moment of history. The votes were cast and counted and things didn’t go our way. But because this wasn’t just a political campaign but a real grassroots social movement, like many others I don’t think this is the end of the story.

By all accounts I should feel devastated…but I don’t. Whilst having a wee chat with myself to try to explore if my reaction is one of shock, denial or just plain insanity a strange but very powerful knowing came over me. The clarity comes after reviewing the posts on social media expressing incredible relief and for calls to please let’s just accept this, hug and move forward together. “It is all over” friends, the media and the politicians say. “We asked the question and the matter has been settled for a generation, let’s discuss it no more.”

But as a woman I know something. And this knowing has given me great hope and a surprising sense of peace on this of all days.

Having been there myself and coached numerous others over time, I understand it is actually much harder to leave a relationship that is crappy but not horrific. When it is horrific people organise interventions, offer money and help you pack. When it is just crappy, people tell you to try harder. You tell yourself that if you try harder maybe they will stop being such jerks. I mean, it’s not like they beat you or anything, but the constant insults, belittling, and control over money does stink. When it is just crappy even your family and community do all they can to keep the norm, keep the peace, it’s not so bad is it? You just need to try harder.

When you try to express your frustration people are tempted to size you up and say, “You seem all right to me. Are you really going to throw this all away, take your kids out of school, give up everything you have worked for all these years and risk being an outcast just for the chance that things may be better?” After endless aurguments when your partner has told you you’ll be destitute, nobody would ever have you anyway, you’re worthless without them for the umpteenth time and even though you fight back, a part of you believes them.

And then you reach a point where you’ve had enough. You mean it this time and you have made up your mind. A teeny part of you maybe even starts to get excited by what the future may hold. A few adventures and opportunities may even await. You pack your bags, take the kids and head to a hotel or your Mum’s house. Then comes the pleading, the flowers and the promises to change, “weren’t we great together years ago? Can’t we get back there again? Can’t we try one…more…time?” And maybe because you’re tired, maybe it’s because the kids are crying that they want to go home, maybe your mother is still tut-tutting away in your head for what she sees as selfishness, you buckle and go back.

The No vote won by appealing to people’s fears of money, security and division in people’s communities. I hear people expressing a strong desire for change but from within the existing structure. Sure that structure is crappy, insulting and disrespectful but it’s our job to roll up our sleeves and clean it up, isn’t it? Make it fairer, more respectful, more equal…because that is what we were promised.

But I know a little something.

Once things come to this point, everyone recommits and tries their best for a while. It might last for a few months maybe even a few years. But before you know it you are back to the same old crappy dynamic. And then one day something happens that just encapsulates everything. Often it is not the big blow out that you would think, but a teeny thing. I experienced this myself and have heard it from scores of others.

Maybe they make a cutting remark without thinking. Perhaps they drain the bank account when they knew you needed that money. They hand you burnt toast. And when that one thing happens, you simply get up and walk out the door.

I wanted Scotland to have a great victory today. It would have been the right way to do it in a joyful, democratic, legal way with the whole world cheering us on. But too many in Scotland are still committed to the vision of what they wish the relationship with Westminster and Britain to be, and not how damaging only 45% of us seem to understand. The other 55% chose to return home to recommit one more time.

But it won’t last, not after coming to this point. It never does.

I have no faith that Westminster will deliver anything but more hardship for Scotland. And when those who voted No, those who so desperately just want to paper over the cracks, keep the peace, forget any of this ever happened, soon find themselves being served burnt toast yet again, well let’s just say that folks may just find themselves at a breaking point and things may come to a rather abrupt end.

I don’t think Scotland will ever have another referendum as we just had. I fear for those who are suffering at unfair cuts and chronic lack of investment whilst those who are the most well off do what they can to protect their own wealth and stability. But I know that the flowering of engagement, awareness and self-empowerment that has come about, whilst severely dented today will not just go away. As a student of history, as a human and as a woman I know this is not the end of the story for Scotland’s self-determination.

At this point I have no idea how or when Scotland’s Independence may come about, and I feel now that when it does it may just surprise us all. But while what we currently have now seems to be working for enough of us, it is really, really not working for far too many to be sustainable for very long.

So for not the first time in my life, I have a deep and profound sense of knowing that sometime soon everything is about to change. I wonder how it will all pan out.

I will be continue to use this blog to explore the food, history and lifestyle of Scotland, and I will move my political writings that have appeared on the Huffington Post and Wings Over Scotland to my new blog of Come visit me there is you are curious as to the next chapter of Scotland’s journey toward Independence.

Thank you for your patience!

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