I can’t promise I will be terribly good at this, but I recently wrote a paper (for my psychology course) on reverse psychology, or trying to think like your opponent. So I decided to attempt it regarding, Scotland, and unionism. If this seems a step too far avert your eyes now. Or just close my blog.
I moved to Scotland in 1999, it was the very early days of the Scottish Parliament, when Donald Dewar was the First Minister, and Labour hegemony seemed eternal. I admit as a young, recently married woman my focus wasn’t that much on Scottish politics. I concentrated much more on getting to know Edinburgh. I was fascinated by the history and the culture. Some times, I’d pinch myself as I could scarcely believe my new life was in such a romantic, beautiful city.
Fast forward nearly 20 years, and my life is completely different. Yes, I still live in the amazing city of Edinburgh (although I have lived in a few other places during this period, including London). But I’m now nearly 50, divorced and bringing up an autistic son, pretty much on my own. My rose tinted glasses haven’t just been removed but they’ve been lost in a drawer, somewhere under the Indian and Chinese takeaway menus. I hate to say I’ve became a cynic, but I have definitely lost that innocence of the younger me who moved here all those years ago.
However over the years, one aspect of living in Scotland which has matured in a rather healthy manner is my political knowledge of this wonderful country, I now call home. It didn’t happen straight away, in fact the first election I participated in wasn’t until we moved back here from London in 2012. But as my Scottish political awareness grew, so did my perplexity at the majority who still seemed intent on keeping Scotland down. It’s like a large segment of the population had no vision for a better more prosperous Scotland, where people from all over the planet wanted to move to, because the opportunities here were boundless. As an American, I didn’t understand this mentality. Admittedly, we Americans have many faults (Trump, anyone), but national pride and self belief is not something we lack. I know I have been accused of thinking I’m an American exceptionalist. I am not, but I suspect many Scottish people see self assurance as arrogance.
So what makes a person have so much self doubt? Yes, I understand the media here are forever telling Scots their country is too poor, their population is too dim, and they would be nothing but some pathetic little backwater without their “betters” in Westminster. But why does the vast majority of the media do that? I can only assume it’s because this is what they believe Scots want to hear. So I have tried to understand how thinking the place I come from is just not capable of a better future. For those of you also perplexed with the negative unionist mindset, you can try this at home.
Go to a mirror. Take a good look at yourself. Now tell that reflection, you’re not worthy of a better life. Or of a more prosperous job, or a more promising future for your kids or grandkids. Tell yourself, you just can’t achieve anything more than what you have. And perhaps even tell yourself you don’t even deserve what you already have, because somehow you’re just not worthy. After about 5 minutes of doing this, I was eyeing up that whisky in my cupboard. Jeezo, I felt truly awful.
But to me this is exactly the mindset of roughly half the population in Scotland. I am no stranger to getting into heated debates with unionists on social media. It’s disheartening. Eventually that sentiment can quickly turn to anger. Let’s face it, most of us at some point have been involved in these debates. So what makes a person so lacking in self belief, that they see no better future for themselves or of the next generation? There is certainly a cultural influence at play. Even to an extent a religious one as well. I doubt it’s a concidence the first time I ever heard the phrase, ‘don’t get above your station’ was here in Scotland. I dare say it must take a toll on your long term health to be so engulfed in an, ‘it’s shite being Scottish’ mentality. I suspect it’s probably why so many people here suffer from long term mental health issues.
Perhaps once we identify why half of us, are so consumed with self doubt, we can better understand why Scotland has never fully realised that she could become a flourishing, vibrant nation. A place all other nations look at with awe and envy. Let’s try to walk a mile in a unionist’s shoes. Then once we’ve seen for ourselves how exhausting that is, let’s bring them to the shop and help them pick out a lovely pair of trainers. Something to help them run with the rest of us to the finish line, towards a better Scotland for all.