Firm and solid positions were being struck. I couldn't see my way past this into any kind of 'creative' response. I've been silent. I've still been involved but as a passive consumer. And yes, I've been both licking my wounds and feeling guilty. It's not a nice feeling. I've felt both impotent and disempowered.
I've felt shamed by others who have been more active, more creative (big shout here to Mark Frankland whose online indyref thriller Toxic is possibly one of the more creative things to have come out of the whole debate.) In case you don't know what I'm talking about Mark has been writing a thriller online, in serial form, and it is still being written - because, the Referendum decision is still being rewritten. I won't spoil his story by giving you the premise or anything but you can find it HERE - he's a good few chapters in and more coming weekly.
But for myself., creativity has eluded me. And last night I sat down to watch the Debate with no little trepidation. I know where I stand, but I wanted to try and see the thing as objectively as possible... and here are my conclusions.
It seems when you boil the whole argument down it's this
Choice A: The Best of Both Worlds
Choice B: Taking responsibility for one's own decisions. Making a decision and then making it the right decision.
I really cannot see what Choice A offers us other than 'the best of both worlds' and I'm sorry, I can't believe in that. When does one EVER get the best of both worlds? Or are we to believe we have that at the moment, because if so, I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking that this is surely not the best world I could be living in. I no more believe that the status quo will provide 'the best of both worlds' than I do that the 'streets of London are paved with gold.' Sorry, there's nothing in this that I can get a grip on.
And Choice B? Well, yes, I was annoyed by Alec Salmond sticking to his guns and refusing to acknowledge a 'plan B' for the currency... but I don't think he was doing it from complacency, I think he stuck to that position for the simple reason that he was trying to show (didn't totally work) that all this 'you'll lose the pound' is just tactics and he refused to get into a hypothetical debate about something that will be negotiated AFTER the Referendum. And that got me thinking. About the whole timeline. The VOTE is just the start. After that... in the time of uncertainty... what then?
Choice A just isn't a choice - 'you can have the best of both worlds.' Tell that to the Quebequoi!' The 'risk' inherent in letting other people tell us what 'powers' we can have is massive. The continuation of being largely governed by Westminster is just appalling to contemplate. More of the same. or worse because we have given away our mandate for change. No thanks.
But what of Choice B? I realised the simplicity that's been missing. This choice - the choice for Independence - is precisely a choice for a NEW WAY. It's not about Alec Salmond or an SNP government to eternity... it's about precisely what most of us rail against - the current political system.
Choice B offers (and if we take it seriously actually demands) that we stand up and be counted. IF you vote for Independence, in my opinion, you are voting for a self-determining system of government. Something WE decide and something totally new. Something WE can take control of and responsibility for.
The naysayers who suggest this is a leap into the unknown which may 'fail' with disasterous consequences are indeed playing on our fear and our apathy, and our learned helplessness. We are all so good at saying what the politicans are doing wrong, where they fail but we don't look at OUR part in this bargain.
If you vote YES you are making a commitment to a decision. And a commitment to MAKE THAT DECISION WORK. What it needs is everyone who votes YES to step up and make sure that the Scotland we love will NOT be taken over by a Westminster styled politics with a tartan flavour. That WE should be central to the decision making process. That we be activtely involved in the government of our own country. It requires the confidence to do this and the commitment to stop bitching about how badly all those 'representatives' do or hiding away with a 'it's not my problem' attitude and becoming an active citizen. That's what I want.
And that's why if the vote is NO I shall feel sold down the river. I shall be sad if a majority of the Scottish People are so unconfident, so small minded, so unwilling to 'give it a go' that they take the so called 'safe' option, or indeed the greedy fantasy 'best of both worlds' option of staying in the UK.
It's time to decide for yourself. Are you prepared to do something REAL to make Scotland a better place? Are you prepared not just to put a tick in a box, but to commit to actually taking responsibility for making sure that beyond the VOTE you actively participate in your own country's democracy? Yes it will mean stepping up to the plate, yes it may mean sacrifices, and changes and less reliance on being able to blame other people. It means being adult and taking on responsibility for not only one's own actions but for our collective actions. That's what many people say they want.
As Che Guevara said 'words that do not match deeds are unimportant.'
So I've broken cover, Because I've spent long enough both personally and as a 'citizen' being silent and fearful, and feeling not good enough and I'm prepared to stand up and say - I will commit myself to making my country a better place. I won't just put a tick in a box and expect the politicians to 'get on with it.' I will be the change I want to see.
This is NOT all about the economy stupid. It's not just about patriotism either. It's about actually having a chance for once in our lives (and probably the only time in our lives) to redraw the social and political landscape. To WORK to create the country we say we want to live in. To stop expecting others to 'do it' for us, to stop listening to the myths of 'the best of both worlds' and to start actually taking personal responsibility for action.
We need to stop being passive consumers, carping critics, blaming 'them' for everything and heaping all the responsibility on 'them' because we can't be arsed ourselves. If we get a YES vote on September 19th we will all have to take responsibility for the negotiation stage towards independence. We will all need to make our voices heard - stop looking for 'them' to give us answers and start telling 'them' what we want - by making it 'us' who drives the decisions. But if, on September 19th, my fellow countrymen and women vote to disenfranchise us all, it will simply be another example of the Scottish cringe writ large. And for me, that's never going to be the best of both worlds.
I would urge people to vote YES with care and responsibility. With a commitment to maintaining a personal investment in the creation of a 'new' nation, a 'new' Scotland. One where we ALL work for social justice and ALL take our share of the responsibility for making the decision we make WORK for everyone. It's not about party politics. It's about US. For the first and only time ever. It is our moment of history. Are we going to grasp it or are we going to stay silent because we don't have the confidence or the desire to really make our country a better place to be. I don't want the best of both worlds, I just want a fair and just society and I'm prepared to put myself on the line for that.
Let's stop bitching and worrying and scaring ourselves. Let's be brave and strong for once. People too wabbit or peely wally to want to run their own country, don't deserve to have the chance. This is our chance. We just have to commit to make it work - all shoulders to the wheel working together for Scotland. Everyone admits that there's no reason why Scotland couldn't be a highly successful small independent country. Well, there's only one reason - the people. If the people don't want it and the people aren't prepared to be free - then Scotland will fail. And it won't be 'their' fault. It will be ours. I want to believe that my fellow Scots have the bravery and commitment. That it goes beyond singing songs and wearing kilts into something much, much more important - not just a sense of national pride, a sense of personal responsibility and an overwhelming desire to seize this opportunity to make our bit of the world a better place for ALL.
It's our choice. Each and every one of us. Let's not let ourselves down. Failure should not be an option!