Here’s a hypothetical for you; what if, instead of learning about the one-sided, and often edited history of our, at one time or another, oppressor; Scotland instead learnt of its own history first; of who we are; where we come from; and what it is we, and not Britain, have given the world?
Well, I’ll tell you; because until then, we as a nation and a people, will continue to see ourselves only through that seemingly collective imagery of Braveheart and the barbarian; the idea of the down trodden and the oppressed; the deifiers of conquest and empires, yet ever the primitive underdog; the little guy; when as a kingdom, and a nation, and within and without that most pervasive of unions; we, and with giant steps, have lead the world in innovation, invention and radical thought; in literature and science; as a nation, we have advanced the very civilization of all humanity in an undeniable, clear and tangible way; yet still, we regard ourselves only by the burdens and identity of the oppressed, for that is all we are ever taught; that we are subservient to a nation which has ruled us with such a dispassionate and uninterested fist, that we have no identity outside of it; which is exactly the status quo so crucial to England’s survival as that fabled ‘British empire’.
For until a time arises when an entire generation of scots are able to know themselves first and foremost, and out with the very oppressive idea of Britishness; then there will never be a certainty toward independence, other than that people will turn out to vote, and thus, securing Britain’s continued survival; Britishness being the corner stone of ‘English’ identity after all. That is the reason for it.
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant” – Robert Louis Stevenson.
Yet we are better than that, and denied this self-realization so deliberately; this dawning moment wherein our collective self-identity would shift considerably from ancient and storied pride, to that of a modern, forward looking country. We are denied this knowledge of who we truly are, and are capable of; deliberately, so that we remain uncertain of our future and merits; afraid to stand on our own two feet, and without the cold hand of our indifferent, and oftentimes callous, ‘Mother’ to hold us in utter contempt; the very same mother whose cruelty saw the nigh absolute destruction of our culture; our very way of life; and the repeated and incessant attempts to wipe said life out. And their reward for such repulsive machinations; that I may know who commanded each side in their ‘English’ civil war.
Why aren’t we tasked with reading John Barbour’s epic: The Brus, instead? After all it is arguably the greatest work of literature to come from the entire medieval period c.1375, and written in the first documented use of the Scot’s language no less.
“A! fredome is a noble thing! Fredome mayss man to haiff liking; Fredome all solace to man giffis: He levys at ess that frely levys!” – John Barbour: The Brus.
And instead of admiral Nelson, Cromwell and Boudicca; why aren’t we told at length of the very real role figures such as Galcacus, King Andrew III, King Macbeth, King Robert the Bruce, Sir William Wallace, Sir Andrew de Moray, the Great Montrose, and numerous others have played in shaping the destiny of our country? Rather than have them simply as a footnote; a line at the bottom of a page to be hurried past like a flasher in a playground; shame-faced and embarrassingly so.
Instead of Wordsworth and Byron; should we not immerse ourselves instead, in the writings and histories of such esteemed teachers as Sir Walter Scott, Andrew of Wyntoun, Blind Harry, or any one of the literal thousands of other Scottish authors, philosophers, playwrights, poets, theologians and historians there are available; whose voices alone would give us a cross section of Scottish history that ranged from the 1300’s, all the way up and to the present day?
After all, why should I be concerned with the genealogy of the British monarchy, when the Covenanter movement and subsequent civil/political/religious unrest of 17th century Scotland interests me far more? When I’d much rather hear of the intricacies of the Clan system; the political scheming’s of the nobility of 10th century Scotland, or the role the ancient Kingroup’s (Cenel’s) of the Kingdom of Dal Riada had in managing western Scotland, and its relationship with the larger Pictish Kingdom to the east. That is the history we should be learning, and truth be told; to me, it is far more interesting than the history of an England repeatedly conquered.
For it is in the knowing of who we are, and out with the notion of Britishness thrust upon us; which in its self is a nonsensical and wholly naive attempt at dismissing, whilst at the same time joining beneath one term; the differences between several factions whom share a tiny island, by means for the larger entity to collectively share in the triumphs of the smaller, more ingenious neighbors through the ignorance of the outside observer, who sees only England where five countries actually lie; that we might truly be a nation once again.
As to know ourselves, and our heritage; history and culture; would allow us to see just how worthy a nation we were, are, and can yet be. If but the next generation of Scots could only buck the current trend of suppression and omittance in regards to how they are educated and what they are taught; if they could effect change; then I wholeheartedly expect there to be a sudden and final separating of the Scottish hand, from that of the husk of an empire seized in the pathetic death throes as it realises that it no longer “rules the waves”
“For, here he has rotted in his lonely grave, Shall so many nobles will cheer for his death and partake in wine and alcohol. He did not forth troops to England nor did he surrender to the French, and Scotland he will not ever bring to peace nor free Scotland from the English chain. So he will not encourage others for he is truly dead” – Torquil Fingall.
Side note: I’ am aware I’m treading close to the ‘Whiny Scot’ cliché, but ask yourself why there is such a term in the first place, for surely we as a people have the right to acknowledge the thousands of years of injustice we have suffered, and still suffer today, at the hands of an insidious and pervasive England.
Look, times have changed, certainly, and I get that; and this is in no way an attempt to lay all of Scotland’s problems with the English themselves, but rather, with the English establishment; a known purveyor of lies, misinformation and deceit which has never had Scotland’s best interests in mind. Hell, why do you think they store the Trident nuclear facility in Scotland (A country and Government that doesn’t want them), and not down in England (A country who does want them); especially when we find out that one of its nuclear missiles malfunctioned; with Westminster simply sweeping the whole incident under the rug and blatantly lying about it to the public; because if it goes BOOM, it goes BOOM in Scotland, and not England; the same England that will neither listen to, nor share plans with, the devolved parliaments of Britain regarding the E.U. referendum; that very same England who sabotaged Scotland’s most infamous attempt at rising from the pastoral landscape of warring clans and civil strife; to better ourselves on an international stage; the Darien scheme.
Of which, England shamefacedly worked to subvert; going so far as to sanction any attempt at building up our navy; forcing nations open to our trade from doing so; threatening investors so that they withdrew their backing; and, upon starvation, disease, and increasing conflict with the vastly more powerful Spain; forbade the English/Dutch colonies in north America to supply, or even relieve, the Scots’ settlement; so as not to incur the wrath of the Spanish Empire. Abandoning the failed colony, the Scottish death toll continued as a result; and when the ships carrying only 300 of the 1200 original settlers aboard, eventually called in at Port Royal, it found itself refused assistance on the orders of the English government; men, women, the elderly, and children; malnourished and dying; turned away as punishment for simply daring to try for a better life.
That is our neighbor, and so is it any wonder that they don’t want subsequent generations of Scots to know just how deplorable they as a nation have acted towards us? No, it really isn’t all that much of a stretch; for by denying and downplaying their atrocious conduct, they again, can hold tight to their laughable and hollow ‘British’ identity a wee while longer, and at the expense of a second entire country no less. Selfish; pathetic; egotistic, and narcissistic.
“Forgive your enemy, but remember the bastards name”- Scottish proverb.
At the end of the day, none of this matters, I’m the only one who cares, WW3 is about to kick off, and all of the above will never be allowed to happen; and each subsequent generation of Scots will have their identity further suppressed, so that they know nothing else, other than what it is to be ‘British’ in the Scottish role; cheifly; a beaten, cowed, and abused partner in the world’s most dysfunctional marriage. But who cares, right? After all, aren’t centuries of repeated invasion; documented mass slaughter and rape; civic and political interfering, and numerous attempts at genocide and cultural suppression all key ingredients in a recipe for a strong and equal partnership?
P.S. Here are two other Scottish proverbs, which have nothing to do with the narrative of the post, but that I like:
“Alcohol does not solve problems, but then again, neither does milk”
“Money cannot buy happiness, but somehow it’s more comfortable to cry in a Mercedes, than it is on a bicycle“