La La How The Life Goes On

Mibby Aye, Mibby Naw*

Posted on: September 18, 2014

This is my country,
The land that begat me.
These windy spaces
Are surely my own.
And those who here toil
In the sweat of their faces
Are flesh of my flesh,
And bone of my bone.
–Scotland, Sir Alexander Gray

Today is the day. The referendum on Scottish independence. Many of you have asked me how I would vote on this issue, and my answer is……..snare drum roll, please!….

It doesn’t matter.

I was born Scottish by the grace of God. But we moved to the USA and I am now American. I have less than zero business telling anyone in Scotland how they should be voting on an issue of such tremendous import.

But I will say this.

To those who say that a free Scotland would struggle economically: you are probably right. But it has always struggled economically as part of the UK. That struggle is precisely why my family moved to the US when British Steel went tits up. Things were bad and not looking to get better; thank you, Mrs. Thatcher.

To those who say that the disentangling of these nations would be immeasurably complicated: you are probably right. What about the currency?! What about the EU?! What about the oil and gas?! The mind boggles at the details. But just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done.

To those who say that this entire independence movement is based on emotion: OF COURSE IT IS. For the love of all that is good and holy, OF COURSE the independence movement is emotional. Has any independence movement ever been anything but? But why does that make it any less credible?

The answer is that there is no easy answer.
My sense is that NO will win.
My sense is that Scotland will persevere regardless.

Scotland, as nations go, is a tough old broad. People love to quote that Alexander Gray poem, but never in it’s entirety. They should:

Here in the Uplands
The soil is ungrateful;
The fields, red with sorrel,
Are stony and bare.
A few trees, wind-twisted –
Or are they but bushes? –
Stand stubbornly guarding
A home here and there.

Scooped out like a saucer,
The land lies before me;
The waters, once scattered,
Flow orderly now
Through fields where the ghosts
Of the marsh and the moorland
Still ride the old marches,
Despising the plough.

The marsh and the moorland
Are not to be banished;
The bracken and heather,
The glory of broom,
Usurp all the balks
And the fields’ broken fringes,
And claim from the sower
Their portion of room.

This is my country,
The land that begat me.
These windy spaces
Are surely my own.
And those who here toil
In the sweat of their faces
Are flesh of my flesh,
And bone of my bone.

Hard is the day’s task –
Scotland, stern Mother –
Wherewith at all times
Thy sons have been faced:
Labour by day,
And scant rest in the gloaming,
With Want an attendant,
Not lightly outpaced.

Yet do thy children
Honour and love thee.
Harsh is thy schooling,
Yet great is the gain:
True hearts and strong limbs,
The beauty of faces,
Kissed by the wind
And caressed by the rain.

It describes a place that has historically been hard to live in and hard on the people who love her anyway. It captures the essence of Scottish-hood: a love of country borne of struggle. A terrain at once mesmerizingly beautiful and mercilessly unforgiving. A history at once profoundly inspiring and relentlessly heartbreaking. A culture and a people who always have been and always will be unique and powerful and inimitable.

With or without their sovereignty.



*msybe yes, maybe no


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