Why I Voted Yes

It’s fairly obvious from the title that this is a political post. I was (and still am a little) hesitant about writing something political on this blog which is devoted primarily to religion and spirituality. I’d be the first to admit that religion and politics can be a dangerous combination. But when something happens in the place where you live that seems to spark such a change, that creates such energy and so many possibilities, it seeps into every part of yourself and it becomes harder to section it off into a neat little politics box. All of parts of life are connected after all, I’m sure my thoughts on religion effect my thoughts on politics and vice versa.

But I will say that, just as when I express my thoughts about religion, when I express my thoughts about politics, they are just that: thoughts. I make no claim to any special knowledge, I admit that I might be wrong and I intend always to listen to others and to change my view, if evidence, reason and pragmatism do not support it. This writing is as much to help me work through my own thoughts as anything else. If anyone reads it, and finds it interesting, that’s fine. If not, that’s fine too.

But to get back to my main point. Why did I vote yes? In a way I’m surprised at it myself. My vote was never about nationalism. I’m about as un-nationalistic as it’s possible to be. I’m not even patriotic. I love Scotland. I also love Germany. I love Japan; I love England and France and Vietnam…I love the whole world and have always struggled to comprehend why some people consider ‘their’ country to be the best for no other apparent reason than that it was where they were born.

I also hate division and segregation. I love mixing and multi-culturalism. I love that within Europe we can travel and work so easily, broaden our horizons and break down boundaries.

So why would I vote for something that was about putting up a boundary? On the surface being united seems so much better than being separated. Deep down I do want to live in a country that’s united, but even more than that, I want to live in a society that truly believes in equality.

This is really what swung me. The gap between rich and poor in the UK is increasing and the policies of the current government seem to be aiding this. Worse still, is the apparent lack of political opposition in Westminster. I know many people who voted for Labour or the Liberal Democrats, thinking their views would be represented in parliament, and who feel sadly let down.

No society is completely equal. I don’t believe in utopias but I do believe in striving for a better society; a society that isn’t all about greed and looking out for number one, but one that is about fairness and equal opportunities. Working together, contributing as much as we can so that everyone, regardless of their background or their family’s wealth, can have access to good healthcare and a good education. And this is what I heard the Yes movement calling for. It was (and still is) a group of people who wanted to push against the growing inequality and continuing privatisation which the government in Westminster seems to be so set on.

I don’t know how things would have worked out in an independent Scotland. In many ways I’m happy to remain part of the UK but I don’t regret voting yes. The energy that was created by that campaign is still going strong. It’s been great to see the Green Party experience such a huge swell in numbers. People care about protecting the environment, about social justice, and putting people before profits. Not only do they care, they are willing to act, to work, to strive to make this society the best it can be for everyone. Despite the outcome of the referendum, I’d say that’s a good result.

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Thoughts about being lost

To be lost is to be free.

You can’t be lost if you’re in a cage. If you are lost, be proud. Your course is open; you can choose which way you go. To be lost is to be independent. If you are lost, you are not following another or a course marked out by another. When you are lost you can go your own way, for better or worse.

But of course, being lost is not easy. The state of being lost is a state full of unknowns and uncertainties. This can be terrifying. It can also feel meaningless; when you are lost, wandering around, able to go in any direction, life can seem aimless. It can be hard to find comfort here. It’s a challenge to find meaning in the search; to find meaning in our wanderings and explorations.

For it seems to me that, whether we like it or not, we are all lost. We are all stumbling around on this tiny planet, spinning around in a universe of inconceivable vastness, understanding only the tiniest fraction about what is out there.

But perhaps we don’t need to fear being lost. Perhaps instead, we can embrace it. Take control of our own lives and strike out in a direction we choose for ourselves or make a decision to drop anchor and make a home wherever we are. Perhaps by embracing the freedom of being lost, by striving to live truthfully and choosing our own course, perhaps in this way, we will never really be lost.

At the very least, we can find solace in knowing we don’t have to be alone in our lostness. Even when we don’t know where we’re going, we can take comfort in our connection to each other, and to the great interdependent web of which we are all a part.

David Wagoner’s poem describes this connection more beautifully than I ever could:

Lost

Stand still. The trees ahead and the bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying
Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are.
You must let it find you.

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