What do we all have in common? [Opinion]

by Michael M

Recently I was commissioned by an organisation, to create a piece of art in memorial of the many people killed in Hiroshima on the 6th of August 1945. The direction given to me was that the piece is to be as true now as it was back then, without “attacking” those who still favor the weapons responsible. This was my journey…

What do we all have in common?

By “we” I mean everyone. I set out so realise something here that everyone can relate to. Everyone with no exception, from the pacifists to the fascists, from this side of the world to the other, from the affluent to the impoverished, from the goths to the neds, what do we all have in common that makes us human? It’s a question that I have often asked myself and what I often come to is that we all have our values and core beliefs. However these very values and beliefs can also be polarising, by that I am saying that these traits do indeed bring us together, but they can also create a “them and us” culture which is incredibly unhelpful. So let’s dig deeper.

Focusing on the nicer side of our values and core beliefs, what does everyone have in them that makes them human? Academics may claim to know the answer “legally”, but when it comes down to the substance, what do we all share that makes up all of us? It’s a subject that requires a lot of thought, a lot of feeling and a lot of reflection.

The conclusion that I have come to (this time round) is that we all need love.

I am not referring to physical love (though we are all someone’s daughter or son), but a social love.

Many people out there have appalling social skills (I should know, I’m one of them haha), but even the most isolated of us wish to belong in some way. We all have a vision of our perfect world and how it should be, even if that vision is divisive it can also be inclusive – a proverbial two sided coin. We are all the children of two people whose paths have crossed, and we value company, whether we are grateful for our friends and family, or whether we are alone and yearn to be loved.

I was at an event some months ago, where two sides protested one another over of the existence of refugees in their world; the fascists were protesting refugees coming to their country and the activists were protesting bigotry from the fascists and those making people refugees in the first place. But both sides did have some things in common: 1) Both were in a group (one larger than the other). 2) Both called the other group names. 3) Both had visions of how their world should be, based on the truths of their life experience and 4) Both wished to change the world they live in based on their vision.

It’s a difficult, even abstract question, with too many variables. The conclusion I came to here is that we are all inherently a social animal, and that we all aspire.

There is only love, some of us may have lost our way, but it is still there within us, with no exception. Some of us have been hurt so badly that we want to hurt others, be it out of spite, or before others can get a chance to hurt us. Some of us are even so lonely that they want to hurt, so that they may be accepted by groups giving out the hurt (bullies), just to end their own isolation…

It’s you. It’s me. It’s our hopes and it’s our ambition. There’s no place for the insanities of war or the cruelty of misinterpreting the lives of others.

“Blue skies and echoes of peace will prevail” the notion that love is in every living thing.

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Yes media

 by C.C. Hamilton

 

When I got involved in the campaign of Independence in 1986, there was next to no one speaking for us. There were a few artists like Pat Kane who stuck their head above the parapet and a few noisy politicians, Sillars, Salmond Wilson etc and that was about it.Well, those were the ones I knew about. As the SNP grew and got a foothold in Holyrood after Devolution it didn’t change much to be honest. It was still difficult to find a Pro-Indy voice in the media.There was a grudging recognition that there WAS a movement for change out but nothing more than that.

The Referendum changed all that. It is still difficult to find Pro-Indy voices in the mainstream but in the alternative media we have terrific voices like Angela Haggerty, Cat Boyd, Common Space, Bella Caledonia Wee Ginger Dug and yes, even Wings Over Scotland if you disregard his twitter feed. And even in the mainstrean we have the likes of Kevin McKenna writing positively about independence. We have The National and the Sunday Herald. Both broadly positive about Independence. It’s been a struggle but things are a lot better.

The reason I mention this is that it’s been a bruisin few weeks for online Yessers. I chucked Twitter ages ago but I occasionally tip my toe back in and the same couple of dozen folk are still shouting at one another about something somebody said about somebody else.

This week Ross Greer of the Green Party waded in, and I have to say that although I was hugely disappointed in his criticism of The National and it’s readers, in the Sunday Herald I think he was broadly correct in what he said. There is no doubt the Yes Movement is damanged by the intemperate online language used by a couple of dozen broadly well meaning folk. But their language, I believe, is borne out of frustration at the lack of support or protection from those in power on our side of the constitutional debate regarding the incessant attacks by a largely hostile media and the fact that the very worst language used by those noisy dozen or so on the Unionist side of the debate from the likes of Spanner, Stephenson, Smart, Barbour, Deans are largely ignored. My only criticism would be that if you are going to call out this type of behaviour on one side of the dabate then do so for the other side. That would be balanced and fair. It is actually very healthy that we are able to look at our own movement and challenge from within but calling for people to be shut down is not healthy, particularly if you are not able to call for the same standards in your opponents. Isn’t it utterly bizarre that the Brian Spanner account is still largely anonymous when you see the disgusting bile that has come from it? Even more so when Ross gets a pat on the head from Ruth and Murdo (WATP) for his column, when Ross should have been screaming back at them to sort out their own party before they comment because the  bizarre thing is that the actual Conservative Party in Scotland has elected representatives in Scotland under investigation for alleged racist, homophobic and sectarian content and yet we have people on the Yes side calling for Nicola Sturgeon to deal with a man who doesn’t live in Scotland, is not a menber of the SNP, has never voted for the SNP and is actually a LIBDEM voter and not calling for the same standards of Ruth Davidson. Stuart Campbell is no more Nicola Sturgeons problem than he is mine. In fact he is more Willie Rennie and Vince Cables problem. I may not like his twitter feed but it is not for me to shut him down. Block, mute, ignore and move on. By all means challenge intemperate language on our own side but if you do at least have the balls to challenge those on the other side too. It is extraordinary the lack of scrutiny of Kezia and Ruth from alternativeYes media, the National does well and THAT is where frustration is borne. Attacks and challenges to our side would be much more accepted if the same standards were applied to, particularly, the leaders of the Opposition Parties.

 But, and here is the crucial point, I’ll let you into a secret, most of us outside the social media bubble don’t really care. Out on the streets we are getting on with our lives, enjoying the summer, chatting, networking, engaging. Maybe there a few out there who need to spend a wee bit of time away from the keyboards and politics or both. The feeling amongst former no voters that I speak to is one of a wish to be persuaded. Most people WANT an Independent Scotland but they want to be reassured. They want positive leadership. They want to hear people to talk up their country. THAT should be the job of Pro-Indy media. Point out the flaws in our own movement, of course, challenge Scottish Government policy, absolutely. But when Pro-Indy parties are getting things right-lets shout about it. When the Tory Government and Labour Opposition is failing us and they both are, spectacularly at present, get after them. But for God’s sake stop shouting at one another on Twitter, it’s a shit medium for debate. Don’t waste yer energy.

 

Bad Taste Jokes

 

A few years ago I worked for a gay man. We went on to become very good friends. His favourite put down when you did something he didn’t like was “Fuck, I wish your dad was a poof!” Oh how we laughed. Well, we didn’t really, it was a stressful job for him and it was an attempt at a humerous Scottish put down. The inference being, of course,that if my dad had been gay, I’d never have been born and therefore never fucked up whatever he’d asked me to do.  I spent a lot of my teenage years in football dressing rooms and the put downs were brutal. “The best bit o’ you dribbled doon yer maws leg!” “If only yer maw had swallowed” You know them all, I am sure and plenty more “Yer Maw!” jokes besides, well you will if you are male and working class for sure.

 I hated all those jokes at the time and still do. But Working Class Scottish “humour” and put downs are brutal. Think of Billy Connolly down the years, Frankie Boyle, Still Game. Go into any place of work dominated by Scottish males and you will hear these and much worse. Should it be called out? Probably. It would be great if we were all just a bit nicer to one another. Should the FM have to answer for everyone who uses intemperate language if they are Pro-Yes? Absolutely Not. Just thought it was worth a mention.

 

Michelle Thomson

 

So as suspected, there was no case to answer. Never arrested, never questioned about herself,only about a former collegue. Treated poorly by the Media and the SNP. Ms Thompson deserves a sit down with the FM and the chance to rebuild her career. She was a huge asset to the Yes campaign and will be again. The vast majority of yessers I am sure wish her well and look forward to her continued involvement in the Yes Movement now she can  really let fly!

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FULL ENGLISH BREXIT

 

by Jaz Dunnichen

 

3.33

 

In a red digital nailed night,

raw in booth and claw

it’s half way to the Devil, and

a third of an emergency call.

Omnia insomnia waits for

whatever damn Godot turns up.

 

4.44

 

At two thirds of the Devil of

a known unknown

and an unknown known,

Dimbleby has just said we’re out.

Ergo it must be true –

like lies damned lies and statistics.

 

9.99

 

‘Emergency which service?’

‘Full English Brexit please.’

‘Very funny mate –

that’s about as original as…

Britishness and tea

or the fear of the stranger.’

 

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Convoy

nuclear

(Balloch March)

by Jaz Dunnichen

 

 

Out of the horizon

come behemoths drawn to light,

Earth shakers

awaiting a master’s voice

obedient.

An older and a wiser man

steps on the crossing and lies down

disobedient.

 

Two young policemen make a collar

from a generation conscripted into

Hiroshima Nagasaki

McArthur and Korea

Bikini Atoll Christmas Island

Cuba

Chernobyl Fukushima,

and the rest known unto God.

 

In the deep space beyond irony

the peace is breached and

a midge in the fission removed.

Only obeying orders

the convoy square bashes towards oblivion.

From the opposite direction

tides of Spring and tourism

obey the Moon towards Loch Lomond.

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“I see you’ve got a Yes sticker on your car”

car_2

by R Ritchie

“I see you’ve got a Yes sticker on your car” came the slightly accusatory comment from a casual acquaintance I bumped into on a recent trip to the supermarket. 

“Yes I have”, I replied.

“You know you’ll lose your free prescriptions if Scotland goes independent?” was the next comment. Oh here we go, I thought to myself, but I gently asked instead,

“And where did the free prescriptions come from in the first place?”

My acquaintance, a gentleman of very mature years, went slightly flushed, ignored my question and replied in a louder voice,

“Scotland’s fourteen billion pounds in debt!”

“I don’t think that’s entirely true; it depends on-” I started but was interrupted.

 “Dae you no watch the bloody news wummin?”, his voice now notably raised, as no doubt his blood pressure was too, “We cannae survive!” He seemed to suddenly check himself to the milder person I’m used to passing pleasantries with, continuing in a more conciliatory tone, “but you’re entitled to your own opinion.”

“Yes indeed”, I agreed, “and we’ll see what happens in the future”. Then with a farewell wave of mixed concern and disbelief, and some unintelligible muttering, he was off.

Why do I recount this brief and dull moment of ordinary life? Several reasons, all of which I believe independence supporters must understand and find ways to tackle.

Firstly, he was undoubtedly one of those who voted No, genuinely fearing loss of his pension. Knowing him during his former employment, I’d suggest he wasn’t a social band A or B, and I know I’m guilty of making sweeping generalisations, but he probably didn’t read as widely into the case for independence as others. He’s also showing the signs of being a devout and unquestioning follower of the Hallowed BBC and printed press. I’d be pretty sure that the internet and social media are something he considers unnecessary and dangerous. 

He’s a pleasant, kind man who has clearly worked hard all his life and just wants a secure and peaceful retirement, so of course he fears the horror of a future which the main stream media portray would exist in independent Scotland. 

This brief conversation in a supermarket car park, gave me a renewed glimpse through the eyes of people who haven’t had access to the extensive information we have online. I think we sometimes forget how scary the thought of independence can be, to those who know only what the MSM tells them. I hope that the fact he brought up the topic of my Yes sticker, and the realisation I still pursue independence, will maybe lay an ember of doubt within him.

Meanwhile, we can post pro independence material online and feel we’re doing something positive, but until we reach the people who aren’t accessing the alternative information, they will remain unionist by default. Brief conversations in the car parks of life, may be a place to start. Five million copies of an updated Wee Blue Book would be helpful too! 

More than anything, this conversation made me realise that it is up to us, every one of us, to make the case in real life, to real people, every chance we can. Of course some won’t listen, but there are plenty of people who still don’t know anything other than what they are fed by the mass media. They need us to talk to them, to open their horizons, to share other points of view and sources of information. 

Persuading the public to choose a better future for our country isn’t someone else’s job, it’s mine and yours, and it’s time we got started again.

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NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT

 

by Jaz Dunnichen

 

 

Ken thon Latin soonds richt braw

ween Scots is better tho naw?

Syne wha daur medle wi me

kin o’ sums up whit wi gie.

 

For fechts dinnae gang leukin,

face doon aiples whan dookin,

sing saft but mind wha ye are –

dae thon an ye shoud gae faur.

 

Rome stairtit it teuk wir grund.

No cantie wi whit thay fund

Onywey didnae bide lang

didnae thole the Pictish sang.

 

An wather wis fell snell tae –

niver redd that sae fowk say.

Tyned some sodgers in the haar

thon ane blaws in aff the mar.

 

Ken a puckle wirds thay gied

but wiv aye hud  wir ane leid.

Aince wheens laithed wir mither tongue

but ye cannae stap whit gits sung,

 

fae louns an queans in the hairt.

Ye’ll no sinder  thon apairt.

Guid ensenyie nemo me –

mynd wha daur dings it aw day.

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BLETHERIN FOU ANENT CALEDONIA (Ben the Howff)

thistle_2

by Jaz Dunnichen

Contermacious yir Pictish quean an loon.

Charrit an airms Tam, no aft laid doun.

Breuked a braw stour an aft pentit thairsel

tae set tae Romans, flichtermice fae Hell.

 

Sic Hadrian biggit thon faur-kent dyke

seein tae as the wather wiz dreich like.

Gin Antoninus biggit anither ane-

gaed fae Forth tae Clyde wi divot an stane.

 

Tak yer een aff thon wee ginger limmer –

she’s fell peelie-wallie like wir simmer.

Dout that she’ll cast her duddies tae the wark,

maistly sin yir wearin thon mingin sark.

 

Weel it wis fair in the newins the day –

micht hae been anither waw Mearns way,

that archaeologists jalouse thay’ve fund

whiles  howkin some reid clart oota the grund.

 

Mind ye wad cuddies ere ye wir waddit –

craitur cried Mons Graupius ye  haddit.

Stairtit swith an gat stickit in the glaur,

cried efter thon fecht by dinna ken whaur.

 

Wee cutty sark thar’s juist gon ben the howff.

That’ll lear ye tae be sae awfu dowf,

doverin as the warld passes by

regairdless o’ ongauns like hird o’ kye.

 

Nou if wi depairt dae wi hae three dykes?

That’ll fair stir up ane whappin wasps’ byke.

Whauraboots is wir leal mairch the nou?

Here man, ye can vote even gin ye’re fou!

 

Hadrian’s,  Antonine’s an ae ither.

Gie awa Hadrian’s – twa bide hither.

Sortit wi’oot a muckle stramash Tam.

Wauken up man an feenish that wee dram.

 

Wunner if the Picts kent thir wis ile?

Thay focht the Roman billies a while.

Used tae gie ane anither a guid fleg

but a’m no sae shuir wha wis the mair gleg?

 

Nou wi micht git lowsed – tak tent Tam tak tent!

Than again some fowk think wi micht git rent.

Mind guid howffs’ll be here mony morras,

sae we coud come back droun ony sorras.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yes Picnic

by C.C.Hamilton

Yes Picnic

I love the idea of the Yes Picnic that is being planned for the 29th July. Don’t get me wrong I am realistic enough to know it will probably pish doon wae rain but it is exactly the king of gathering I was talking about a couple of weeks ago about using the summer months and the “better” weather to bring people together. The boss here at Defiaye Towers is helping to organise and I am to understand that a wee dug of the ginger variety will be there.

What it will do, and this is important, is attract nosy/curious peole in the park that day to come and see what isgoing on and these are the really important conversations we need to have over the next couple of years. In my experience most people are really receptive to the “idea” of independence but are a bit scared of it. We need to take the sting out of it. And informal gatherings in public places can help to do that. We need to stop shouting and start listening. Stop talking AT people and start talking to them. Conversations are a two way thing and too many in our movement want to talk and shout AT people and not take the time to listen and converse. Let them come to us because what we are doing is interesting, fun and worth their time. Actually too many in our movement spend too much time on social media arguing with people who are NEVER going to be convinced, but that is a whole other blog. So if you are about on the 29th and fancy a blether, come along. I’m taking the weans. Bring a bit o scran and a bottle of ginger. It’ll be great.

 

 

Difficult Night

 

Last night was a tough one for our Womens football team. Those of us who follow the side knew it was going to be a difficult night. Particularly as we were missing Kim Little, Jen Beattie,Lizzi Arnott and Emma Mitchell through injury. However, that has created opportunities for others and most of them are young enough to learn great lessons from last night. Disappointingly I don’t think our players did themselves justice. I am sure they will be desperate to prove that they are better than the scoreline and performance suggests and they are. On Sunday they move on to play Portugal and it is a game they can win. Qualifying for this tournament was massive, but we don’t want to be there just making up the numbers. The experience of tournament football will be brilliant for the squad and should drive them on to bigger and better things and any girls out there playing the game or watching last night shouldn’t be downheartened but it should make them more determined to push on.

Which brings me to the appalling way the SFA treat our team. While the men are resting up in the luxury of Mar Hall the ladies are treated like second class citizens. That has to change. If we are serious about progressing our game in Scotland and encouraing more girls and women to play and watch the game, we have to treat our elite squads properly. They have the ability but they need the preperation time and facilities that are afforded to the top nations in the Womens game. Make no mistake, this is a talented group we have with better talent coming through behind them. If we invest now, we have a real chance. Is the SFA brave enough to really back the Womens game in Scotland? I hae ma doots.. but they should or else a terrific opportunity will be lost. Oh and by the way, the Scottish Government could intervene here with a couple of million quid, small beer for them, and demand that the SFA match their investment. I appreciate that money is being spent in grassroots fooball but it is the elite squads doing well that drives participation at grassroots. The FM is patron of the Womens National team, lets see if her Government can put their money where their mouths are.

Before I finish can I also point to the great coverage the Womens game gets in The National newspaper. The only newspaper to take the Scottish Womens game seriously and I really hope they continue to grow their coverage of Womens Football.

 

 

 

BBC Pay

 

Firstly let me say that I don’t really care what individual presenters on the Beeb get paid. However as a big fan of Scottish football I was annoyed to see that Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer are receiving more for presenting Match of the Day than the amount the BBC paysin total for Scottish Football coverage. I love Match of the Day and really like Lineker and Shearer but I think it is time for the BBC to shell out a bit more to support our game, produce a better Sportscene product and give it a prime time slot. That in turn would encourage more people to watch, attend games and that would, hopefully encourage more participation in the game. I don’t grudge anyone a single penny but we pay the licence fee too in Scotland and our national game deserves better from the national broadcaster.

 

 

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SONNET FOR JIMMY REID

for_poem

by Jaz Dunnichen

 

The Stygian dawn of Thatcher’s children

loomed out of the maw of the South the day

he spoke clear again to me by the Tay

this mighty Clyde built man of then

orator of another river’s ken

whereon he’d employed with time’s truth and lay

those ancient trusted Greek arts to inveigh

against disciples of greed and its yen.

 

Succinctly he voiced a selfless heart’s cause

heralded hope and sang a plaintive hymn 

of working dignity this man of pause

this denizen of the Communist rim,

this fair fluent fan of Jesus Christ laws.

No such fine ships in now’s zeitgeist and whim.

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Bubbles And Echo Chambers

ECHO

by Wee Coonty Radical

As with most things it’s the getting started that is the hardest step and once taken the rest falls into place or so we tend to believe. There are always a few people who caution against over optimism, people who look at an issue such as independence and ask why those opposed to it do so and how do those that support independence convince our fellow Scots that independence is not only desirable but essential if as we like to think we live in a society that is progressive and democratic enough to allow for any political ideology wherever it is on the political spectrum to have its place within the wider Yes movement.

 
I believe during the independence referendum this was achieved but since there has been an entrenchment of opinions and if not a reluctance to listen to other viewpoints then to only listen to those that closely resemble our own, be that left, centre or right.  Personally I know I have been complicit in this as after the 2014 referendum result I was, shocked and angry at the result. Along with many others I had attended rallies, canvassed and travelled over the central belt of Scotland to get material for my local Yes hub.

The people I canvassed alongside did so because they believed we could have a real impact on how this nation would be run. We would have an input and a real say in a way that many of us felt we had never had. So we went to peoples doors, gave them leaflets and information from the many groups that participated in the referendum campaign and we talked to people who had different points of view and we learned to refine our arguments and tailor them to the areas we were in but wherever that was we ensured that we made sure it was an inclusive, socially just and positive message.  Given the negativity of the better together campaign, you’d think voters would opt for the more positive choice, but as we found out fear won out over hope.

Since the referendum some of us have rather impressive built bubbles and echo chambers. We decided that those who did not share our vision, our way whatever that may be to achieve independence were somehow holding the independence movement back. Any questioning of the timing of another indy ref was considered to be tantamount to being against it, this seems to have intensified since the 2016 Brexit vote and the General Election of 2017.   

From a personal point of view memes with Eat, Sleep, SNP , Repeat began bothering me. The meme seemed to imply carry out these actions but don’t critically assess why you would do it.  Mentioning this on Facebook was interesting. I was informed only the SNP would bring about independence (as the largest party committed to it and being in government so I was told on a few occasions, ONLY they could deliver it) I argued that we get independence only through engagement with the wider grassroots movement as only by recapturing the diversity that existed then could we hope to win any future referendum.  Nonsense I was told, what other party will bring it about? Will a bunch of lefty columnists achieve it? A few days later Nichola Sturgeon announced that the SNP need to engage with the wider YES movement.  I would have claimed bragging rights but here’s the thing, it doesn’t really matter as I agree the SNP is the most effective vehicle at present but to succeed listening to other points of view , more so the opposite and debating points, yes even those of people who voted Labour in the last GE, is the only way we are going to win.

 Recently I have heard that the success of Jeremy Corbyn in England is due to his adoption of SNP polices. I can’t agree with this reasoning. The policies Corbyn has promoted are social democratic\ socialist. They are not Corbyn’s Labour or the SNPs solely , they are an attempt at social inclusion and the fairer society we aimed for in 2014.  When will we get the opportunity to advocate those values, a part from in our everyday lives and the interactions we have with our friends ,family , colleagues , though going on about politics all the time does tend to become wearing to those who are not motivated by it, 2019 seems likely.

I hope I have learned to become more tolerant of opposing views and know for certain that to win another independence vote deflating the bubbles and deconstructing those impressive echo chambers is vital.

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