So. Alba’s people have spoken – the United Kingdom remains united.
This morning, I took the long way to work again. It was another dreich day, made even more miserable for some by the news they’d awakened to the morning after the referendum vote. After all, Dundee was Yes City – the first to declare for independence as the votes began to come in. This morning as I walked to work, the melancholy in the air was as palpable as the mist. People were quiet, their expressions varying from disbelief to sorrow. Just ordinary people on the streets, heading to the bus stop, to school, to their jobs and other destinations, silent and shell-shocked. As I walked down Victoria Road, I saw an arm come out of a window and pull the Saltire that had been hanging from the window rail inside. The sight was so sad, it filled my eyes with tears, and by the time I got to work I was crying.
I wasn’t crying over the result – I was crying for Scotland’s people, for my friends. Because this morning – as usual – I checked Facebook and the major news sites, and what I had feared would happen (no matter which way the vote went) was happening: smarmy comments. Anger, rage, bitterness and triumphalism. There’s nothing like reading the comments following an article for gaging people’s true sentiments, and some of the things I read this morning deeply saddened me.
My boss – a wonderful man – did not ridicule me for being emotional. He likened what some people were feeling to bereavement.
“It’s like when somebody dies,” he said. “The wound is so fresh, so raw, that any kind of comfort or condolence offered – though genuine – will seem trite…..they don’t want to hear that now….they need time. Scotland will heal. As long as people behave decently, given time, the divisions will heal, we’ll move forward.”
What he said made sense; I was able to take a measure of comfort from his words. And my tears dried, though I still felt an overwhelming sadness. In the run up to the referendum, I have seen (some of) my friends forget they were friends. I’ve read comments from people who are obviously English suggesting that “England should now hold their own referendum and kick the Scots out”. I’ve read comments from people in Scotland slagging off the people of Scotland as “cowards” “traitors” – remarks of the “so much for Scotland the Brave” ilk, along with loads of remarks suggesting that William Wallace died in vain, is turning over in his grave, etc. A few particularly vitriolic commenters went so far to suggest that Scotland was now “a world joke” – an idea that especially saddened me, though, truth be told, it pissed me off more than anything.
The first thing I fell in love with about Scotland was her people. Pragmatic, practical, dour? Yep. But mostly, enthusiastic, generous, open, passionate and warm.
So I say to these people, the people of Scotland that I love, all those in this country that I love, BE PROUD. The way you voted – be it yay or nay – reflected your sincere desire to do the best for your country. Your enthusiasm and passion, your engagement throughout the past two years offers a stellar display of love for your country and the power of democracy to people the world over.
Take that love, that energy and enthusiasm and passion and use it to heal the divisions of a well-fought campaign on both sides – use it to propel Scotland into a better future for all who live here and love her.