Scotland the Brave!

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As I’m sure you’re aware, Scotland voted earlier this week on its independence. Scotland has been part of Great Britain (along with England and Wales) and, more broadly, the United Kingdom (which includes Northern Ireland), for over 300 years. However, there has apparently been a growing sense of disquiet north of the border primarily centered on the perception that the English Parliament doesn’t understand or even care about the needs of Scotland.

Having lived in the States now for nearly 15 years, it’s hard for me to venture an intelligent opinion on the validity of these complaints. Scotland clearly believed their complaints to be real, though, and was brave enough to do something pretty radical to, at the very least, draw attention to their frustrations.

Breaking away from England is about as radical an act as Scotland could take, and about as risky, too. Scotland, as a fully independent nation, would have had to develop new currency, establish a military, reapply for U.N. membership, negotiate with many major businesses that had threatened to leave Scotland should their independence vote pass, and deal with many other challenging issues.

The independence vote did not pass, and so Scotland remains an important — nay, a vital — part of the United Kingdom. The ‘no’ vote didn’t win by much; clearly Scotland’s voters were more than just posturing. They were truly prepared to stand alone, to weather the storm, and to do what they felt was necessary for the long-term health of the nation and its people.

It might surprise you to hear an Englishman say this, but anyone who knows Scotland and Scottish people should not be the least bit surprised. Cards on the table; I’m glad that Scotland took this stand, but so very happy that ultimately they remain a part of our great British family, and not only because it ensures that the most iconic flag in the world (sorry, Old Glory) remains intact. I’m delighted because the nation of Scotland and its proud people bring something utterly unique to our union.

In the past the Scots had battled at Bannockburn, and the like, in efforts to secure their freedom. But Scotland never had many of the advantages that, say, America so smartly maximized during its break to independence. As a new nation, America was a territory of uneven cartography, providing the locals with a significant advantage over the "tourists." Knowing the lay of the land far more intimately often enabled its inhabitants to leverage the landscape for major militaristic benefit, and it was a vast country, with vast and varied natural resources, which the savviest American generals used to great effect. America had an ocean on its side, and enjoyed the comfort of a 3,500-mile buffer between itself and its enemy. All Scotland had separating it from its ancient adversary was a holey 75-mile wall in various states of disrepair since it’s completion in 128 AD. Hadrian’s attempt at a fortification could barely deter sheep, let alone hold King Edward’s — or any number of his successors’ — armies at bay.

Yet, Scotland has continued to fight the fight, this week exchanging claymores for pencils — which I’m sure their polling officers appreciated.

Whether you fully understand Scotland’s reasons for voting for independence this week or not, and whether you agree with them or not, you can’t fail to be inspired by their advocacy. The Scots have never been apathetic about their beloved country. Despite whatever else we might think about Scotland, we should respect and, quite frankly, be inspired by, its people remaining true to their nation’s moniker: Scotland the Brave.

Mark Turner is formerly of Oxford, England, but has lived in America for the past 15 years, the majority of that time in Colorado. Mark enjoys playing soccer, hiking and biking when the weather's good, and when the weather's rotten writing blog entries that he hopes will amuse and entertain. Mark can be followed on Twitter @melchett.

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