Wednesday, 17 September 2014

9. The sharp edge of the ballot paper

Selfishly I find Scottish referendum debate is a thing of beauty, a thing of this day. But of course, I'm just an observer, I don't have to make such decision myself. Every layer of it brings all sorts of modern age topics and questions. No matter what's the result tomorrow, the exercise of deciding whether they want to stay as a part of the UK or declare Independence has already changed many things.
For a country-that-never-had-a-revolution, this is a quite close version of it. Civilised, of course, it's British. The velvet revolution, they call it. Civilised, even if -after the vote- some steam might need to get out.

From the political point of view, allowing a “yes/no” vote has been a big bet. But it is indeed effective in splitting waters. When we need to make a decision like this, we are forced to set a hierarchy to values that we did not know had a hierarchy. The sharp edge of the ballot paper will separate Scotland from its past. If they decide to stay or to leave, it will be their active decision of today. It will be no longer be the past defining their future. It will be their votes.

The first point about claiming power back is that it comes with responsibility. Which is great. There won't be a greater power to blame.
The second is accepting the discomfort it will generate. Firstly, it will have to reconcile itself with the winning decision, and in this case around 50% of the people will be disappointed. Making a decision confront us with a new knowledge of ourselves at the point that we may not recognise ourselves. Did we really had the opportunity and did not take it? Did we really leave the UK?
Their own tolerance, self-respect and self-love will be put to the test the day after.

Whatever the result, it is a great attempt to re-democratise politics, which lately has been too monotone, more concerned about engineering consensus around an already established agenda than taking countries -and their people- forward. It has reignited a spark (even in Gordon Brown). Any union that “counts” with a member to be silent or weak or who is taken for granted, does not work.
However, “leaving the clan” to start your own hero journey can be exciting, but does not guarantee it will be easy. Beyond the separation bureaucracy, becoming a small dog in the pack will be indeed different. A full hero's journey awaits and it will be full of dragons, ogres and trials.

Whatever Scotland decides, I wish them the very best.


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