Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Scotland and the poverty of ambition

Admittedly, this is written after the Scottish national football team has plumbed new depths. Though without being too tribal in sporting terms, I must also acknowledge the continued failure of bawbag Britain's latest great white dope in the tennis world, Andy Murray. The main point not being that we rarely win at anything nor even the constant whinging at perceived inequalities on the playing field. No, the problem is that we expect to fail or are scared to conceive success. We are even satisfied to have a primary-school level carving of an Australian Christian wife-beater's interpretation of one of our national heroes exist at the foot of his monument.

Sport though is just that. It's bad enough when the playing field is our very nationhood and culture. There are numerous examples but here are a few that come to mind.

G'day suckers
First up has to be the reluctance - cowardice - of the Unionist parties at Holyrood to countenance a referendum on independence. This is bad enough but the idiocy of some Scots is depressing. It isn't uncommon to hear views such as 'I dinny want to be ruled by an Alex Salmond dictatorship' or words to that effect. Strange that people can't see that an independent Scotland would be ruled by whichever party that won the subsequent elections. Do they think the Republic of Ireland is run by a perpetual Sinn Fein government? Do the Norwegians only have Det norske Arbeiderparti at elections? Or do these amadain even have a concept of 'Norway' as a successful though small and socially democratic independent nation?

And while we're on Norway... Its often amusing to hear 'auld Socialist' types coming across all Daily Mail in defence of the Union. Apparently, an independent Scotland could not survive the current economic crisis. "It just wouldnae work...". I wonder which part of bankrupt Britain's massive £400billion debt could be construed as 'functioning' or 'successful'? Perhaps the saddest thing about all this is not that the Scottish Labour Party or Lib Dems are unwilling to test their pro-Union faith but that they cannot see the opportunity in this for their own parties and for Scotland. Whilst I may happily vote for the SNP or the Greens at the moment because they offer a positive change from a backward Union that has given us little in the way of dividend, I would welcome the chance to vote for a post-Union Scottish Labour Party that had along the way re-adopted some auld and basis principles. The current malaise is exemplified well by Scottish Labour's leader Iain Gray - a man who seems to have made a committment to mediocrity his vocation.
Forward with mediocrity and the war on teeth

If anyone doubts the lack of a Union dividend, they need only go to some of our housing schemes. Decades, indeed centuries, of London rule under different parties has changed little or nothing. Compare it to Norway. I wonder how many young men in Oslo had power drills taken to their skulls by gangsters recently? Or had chisels and knives taken to their groin and face? Maybe we should just compare their longevity and general health and well-being? Or count the number of teeth in your average Norwegian teenagers mouth? In short, just what the fuck is the status quo doing for our poor? Independence aint a magic pill but its a start. And Norway is a pretty good role model to emulate.

Norway too has an egalitarian approach to its two languages - Bokmal and Ny Norsk. Compare this to the usual whinging about Gaelic - most often followed by some vague reference to tax-payers' money and its status as a minority language. Hmmm... I wonder which other minorities should have services denied due to cost? Couldn't we just round all the minorities up into cattle trucks?  Fact is, Gaelic is ours and to those who deny that it has a place in Lowland culture, go and learn some and maybe then you'll see the mountain in front of you. Its like a Francist madrileno denying the Arabic influence in Spanish culture but being unable to explain the significance of Al-Andalus. Gaels are tax-payers too and as native Scots are surely entitled to services in our indigenous tongue. This should not be confused with efforts to reverse the erosion of the language - after centuries of repression and neglect. 

On this point, its dissapointing to see Edinburgh Council further postpone a decision on whether or not Dùn Eideann should have a stand-alone Gaelic school. Pure fence sitting. Arguments about cost won't wash. Our kids have to be educated. We might as well give them 2 or 3 languages in the process as let their minds' potential rot with mono-lingualism.

Lastly, and on subject of education, is the new 'Curriculum for Excellence'. This has been in the pipeline for years. Some though claim that they aren't prepared for it. Others claim that it is too 'vague'. Thankfully, some understand that it empowers the teacher to give children the necessary tools of enquiry and research. Why just teach children to memorise facts? Why not give them the skills to find out for themselves? I for one certainly welcome the new emphasis on exploration, reasoning and philosophy as hopefully it will lead to a gradual reduction of religious worship in schools. Why teach children to enquire and search for evidence while simultaneously telling them to 'just believe' a bunch of unprovable auld tales with absolutely no basis in logic?

There are other issues. From the suspicion of euthanasia (strange, but the churches are at the forefront of opposition to yet another advance in the understanding of, and steps to alleviate human suffering) to our inability to effectively and sensibly deal with the drugs issue - and this includes our harmful relationship with alcohol and tobacco.

In the next qualifying matches for the Euro Championships, it would be refreshing to hear the players talk up a win against world champions Spain - not only because we've practised and relearned the basics of passing and shooting but because we don't fucking fear success. Simply, if the laws of science say its possible, then go for it.

1 comment:

Ian McIntosh said...

Absolutely spot on-very well written and said all that needed to be said. We suffer too much from a cringing mentality in Scotland which is self-perpetuating because we never achieve much, so we lose our belief we can, so in turn don't achieve much, so in turn don't believe we can see where this is going.

We have our self-belief drained away by the media with its lack of balance, and bias against independence and for the continuation of the undemocratic, classist, grovel-before-your-betters status quo.

I can see beyond it though and believe independence and the preserving of our language(s), identities and history would be a success of sorts and could potentially lead to more success and positivity. We just need the chance!

Saor Alba
Ian, Edinburgh