Most people living in the UK are aware of the passionate political debate regarding the vote on Scotland’s referendum vote on Scotland’s Independence. To my friends and readers across the pond, the referendum reminds me of the Land of the Free, where American fought with the British Empire to be independent from the State. I (can) understand the passion of the American people, and the pride that was fought for such freedom. My sincere sadness for America today is that their established freedom is being squeezed through the constitutional papers, especially the religious liberty that America once held dear.
Today’s careful reflection is a mixture of defining freedom in general terms and sharing thoughts on Scotland’s Independence.
Disclaimer: Please… please keep in mind, I am not an “expert” in any discipline, but purely sharing my own thoughts and my own opinions. I will however strive to reference on reliable sources (that are actually deemed “reliable”), should I see significance to a particular argument and/or statement.
Freedom in History
Humanity has already experienced freedom back in the day. If you believe and accept the Bible as God’s incarnate Word, then God’s creation of Adam and Eve will ring true to all believers. When God created man and woman in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), the Lord God gave instruction to Adam, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17, ESV). Make a mental note that the LORD God commanded the *man*.
We all know how the story flows thereafter…
- The serpent deceives the woman (Gen 3:1-5).
- Woman eats the fruit first (Gen 3:6).
- Man eats the fruit second (Gen 3:6).
- Both became naked (Gen 3:7).
- Man blames woman (Gen 3:12).
- Woman blames the serpent (Gen 3:13).
- Both receive judgement, after God curses the serpent (Gen 3:16, 17-19).
- Both suffer the consequence of eternal death through sin (Gen 2:17).
- Both are banished from the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:23-24).
And it’s fascinating when you look beyond the obvious timeline of events that the LORD God had sought to send His Son (Christ Jesus) into the world, who would later be a serpent crusher in Genesis 3:15 and conquer Satan, and give hope to mankind through the eternal life that He brings.
So what is freedom? Is humanity capable of such responsibility? We could turn to world events (past and present) and reflect on the sheer atrocities of given Acts of Freedom.
The LORD God has given us the freewill to live, but there is indeed a consequence in how we choose to live our lives. Already we have looked at a given example from the Bible.
It can be argued that freedom is closely associated with human pride and the association of power, authority and self-righteousness, and I know for one that God is not a fan of the proud James 4:6 (this particular passage is based on the warning against worldliness, read James 4:1-12 for full context).
Whilst the developing countries are trying to stabilise themselves in a given economy, despite the corruption of fallen governments and leadership… developed countries are becoming more liberal in the sense of legalising everything associated with humanity, simply to appease everyone. There’s even talks about anti-tattoo discrimination laws. What next? A discrimination law to protect people from obsessive freckles on their face and skin. This is the sad and challenging reality of everyday live in the 21st century.
The problem with this is that Christians do not belong in this world. John 15:18-25 (read the passages of Scripture in context… and then read the concluding verses in John 15:26-27 of God’s promise of the Holy Spirit for every Christian), where sin is essentially spreading like an epidemic. Because we do not belong in this world, the Scriptures even instructs us to store our riches in heaven and not on earth, as noted in Matthew 6:19-21.
After all, if you believe in God’s incarnate Word and you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, you will be saved. More importantly, we will pass through from this world and live in eternity with Christ the Risen LORD.
Freedom from what?
Ultimately, Scotland wants to be free from the English who govern Westminster’s House of Parliament down in London, even though Scotland were granted moderate devolution powers and a Scottish Parliament back in 1997, when we as a nation voted for Labour to win the UK general elections by a landslide. That is the end reason of all reasons.
Curiously, Scotland still wants to adopt the pound for its currency, and acknowledge Her Majesty The Queen as the Head of State in Scotland, amongst other forms of national heritage and governing bodies. If Scotland truly wants to be free and independent from the State, it should reinvent itself, and not make a half-hearted effort to disassociate itself from the United Kingdom, only to keep British benefits through governing bodies and apply for membership to join the European Union (EU).
Scotland historically doesn’t get along with the English, and historically English politicians have used Scotland (mostly that of the conservative party… must we be reminded of the days of Margaret Thatcher). And because David Cameron is mostly leading a coalition government with “I agree with Nick” Clegg, most Scottish people cringe at Cameron’s “upper-class” association with the Conservative party, and the haunting reminder of Madge.
Remember Mel Gibson’s Braveheart movie? You know, the most inaccurate movie based on Scotland and the pride (and reason) for Scottish independence. I should know, as I studied William Wallace during my tender years at high school in history class.
The problem with the movie Braveheart is that the leading actor Mel Gibson is from Australia… the same bloke who used his personal money to fund, direct and star in the controversial, yet critically-acclaimed film, The Passion of the Christ. Secondly, Braveheart is based on emotional psychology engineered by Hollywood.
Besides, I prefer Aragorn’s manly battle speech at the Black Gate from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Even Théoden’s battle cry and the ride of the Rohirrim is worth a mention too! Again, these are emotionally-charged scenes that are designed to capture people’s emotion. It is centred on a climatic battle between two armies. As a result, we shouldn’t use a Hollywood-inspired Oscar-winning movie to base our discernment on an important vote for the future of the United Kingdom, where Scotland are given the exclusive right to sway towards independence or remain united as a nation.
I am not going to go down the political fine points of the Pros and Cons, because both present an agenda of propaganda, and I don’t want to feed the trolls. One thing I do want to note is that both campaigns use bullying tactics. Since when do politicians actually tell the truth, otherwise they should study for pastoral ministry and indeed proclaim God’s truth instead! One nationalistic campaign base the future on past statistics with overly wishful thinking of the future, whilst the opposing campaign elevates a sense of fear in the sheer cost of leaving and being separate from the State.
Scottishness and Britishness
I was born and bred in Scotland. I have studied at two of the lower-end academic institutions in Scotland, due to my chosen undergraduate degree programmes at the time. If I had chosen to study a classical subject to major in like English Literature or Medicine, then there are obviously “better” universities to study at and secure a better future, which is another reflection for later. Anyhow, what does the term “better” mean these days? When you first pursue a career like a computer games designer, then a modern university is likely to offer what you need. And who would have thought of studying for pastoral ministry. Do you understand? Scotland is like any other country in that we have good and naff universities, but it depends on your chosen academic major.
I used to identify myself as Scottish – up until I came back from South Korea after teaching English for 6 months. I later changed my national identity to British. You could say that I’m a Scotsman who reaps the benefits with the rest of the United Kingdom. You know… things like the Security Service (MI5), the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), the National Health Service (NHS), the national identity on the world stage at the Olympic Games, and of course our strong international links, and political allies with the United States who will always have a special place in my heart for many reasons. Of course, you have the usual national government benefits like pension, working credit, tax credit, etc. and all things related to the Inland Revenue (the British equivalent to the IRS in America).
When I travel up north, I love the scenic mountains and in ways its fun to count the scattered sheep that dot around the landscape. It’s one of the most majestic views that I have ever witnessed (and can afford to see at the time of writing), and we as a family make an annual visit to drive around Scotland. The Scottish mountains are a popular hot-spot for pastors and ministers to go hiking. Though, I want to believe they enjoy hiking, purely because the mobile phone (cellular) signal is so weak that nobody from their congregation can get in touch.
When I travel abroad, I miss the connotations of all things Scottish, but when I land back – I feel like I want to travel elsewhere. I think it depends on the weather, which can be like four seasons. I’m sure Scotland was a major influence for Vivaldi.
There are things that I cringe about being Scottish, as with most people who are associated with a country that do stupid things on the world stage, or are embarrassed of the association of such global ranks.
For someone who has travelled to three continents in this very small world of ours, I find it easier to secure a job overseas than I do in Scotland. I know some young people would rather emigrate overseas for a better future, at least for emerging industries where there is a higher ratio of young people likely to secure work. I know of an old friend from Dundee who would emigrate to Canada, if Scotland were to secure independence. At the time, I didn’t share the sentiment. And yet, fast forward 9 years and I can relate with the plausible mindset to move on.
Scotland may have been renowned for its inventions that have shaped and changed the world that we live today, including John Logie Baird who invented the television… and yet, it’s America that dominates the TV and turns the world into couch potatoes with Hollywood movies and a never-ending slew of TV programmes (mostly imported from the States). It’s also the States who gives us the ability to glue ourselves to monitors and game consoles playing games all-day, whilst the non-gamer are instead consumed by the endless entertainment streamed via Netflix and iTunes (or the BBC iPlayer).
You also have Alexander Graham Bell who invented the telephone and pioneered AT&T (again in the States)… and yet, other countries are dominating the mobile phone market with the likes of major technology firms like Samsung and Apple. It wouldn’t surprise me if Apple’s company value is the equivalent to Scotland’s potential value as a whole.
These days, Scotland seems to pioneer itself with renewable energy by building vast amounts of wind turbines. There are over 5 wind turbines across from where I live. Essentially, Scotland is capable of farting its way with renewable energy, especially with the countless cows that also dot the Scottish landscape.
As for whiskey… well other countries make whiskey. There is no patent on whiskey, just like there is no patent on water. It really depends what type of whiskey a consumer wants to buy that makes it his thing. Scotland may be the biggest exports that helps to contribute the UK economy, but I am sure it’s because the UK government helps to market overseas through international business and trade. And don’t forget, we are also pioneers of one of the most controversial video game series, Grand Theft Auto.
Scotland does however control and maintain NHS Scotland, and they govern the Scottish education system via Education Scotland. Outside the age-old academic institutions including St Andrews University and Glasgow University, the education system is of a poor standard compared with the international education ranking. I speak as a student who had his tuition fees paid for when I studied for my first undergraduate degree course, though I had to cough up and pay for my second undergraduate degree course. I also had first-hand experience as an ESL Teacher, and I am in awe of the high standard of education overseas, especially countries in East Asia including Hong Kong and South Korea.
How much further power do Scottish politicians need, so they can better serve themselves with corrupted salaries and back-scratching favours, before they serve their country and the people who choose to vote them in parliament? That I do know, as I previously worked for a private company, yet we were still part of a major regional council in West Central Scotland.
At the end of the day, I don’t take pride in any national identity, other than my identity in Christ, and Him alone.
As I shared from the very beginning… Pray for Scotland.