And Its Meaning To You

Scotland in a year from now will be voting on independence from the United Kingdom. The date is September 18, 2014. What is not known is how they will vote. Presently, Scotland is equally divided between those for, against, and undecided. Nonetheless, how Scotland votes will decide their future.

Two critical aspects of this vote for independence need to be addressed. One relates to the way that some Scots function and the other to the way that some English function.

As for the Scottish functionality, those who are against independence have several different and varying reasons. Nonetheless, a central issue is their fear of governing and political ability on the world stage. In Scotland, they call this phenomenon the Scottish cringe. The cringe is the fear some Scots have about a sense of inability to run their lives or govern themselves without help from Westminster.

Case in point, Scotland has not had a parliament since 1707 when the English made Scotland a part of the UK. Since then, Westminster makes all national decisions about Scotland. Prior to 1707, Scotland governed themselves at the national level. Having London govern Scotland is a large part of the cringe. In 1999, Scotland after nearly 300-years now has a parliament.

In addition, if Scotland became independent, some fear that they are not capable of being a full-functioning member of the EU. They are not as big as Germany or France. However, half the countries of the EU are smaller than Scotland in landmass and population and are capable of operating as independent EU members.

The cringe and related fear-factor is a major issue for many Scots. They just do not feel they are mature and strong enough to function on their own. Interestingly, the cringe factor first appeared in 1776 while the Founding Fathers were debating the independence movement from England. John Dickinson, whose family was from Scotland, expressed that America was not ripe yet for being independent.

John Knox Witherspoon John Knox Witherspoon
John Witherspoon, who was born not far from Edinburgh, Scotland was so outraged at Dickinson that he interrupted him with this terse reply: "Not ripe, Sir! In my judgment, we are not only ripe but rotting. Almost every colony has dropped from its parent stem and your own province needs no more sunshine to mature it." Where are the Witherspoons of Scotland today?
As for the English functionality, Henry II etched into the English mindset the notion of divine right of kings by 1169. Since then, royalty have seen themselves as superior to the commoner, because they were born into a special relationship with God. This is the basis of the royal we. The plural refers to the king and God. While that may seem a bit presumptuous to Americans, the holier than thou mindset can be seen among commoners...especially in the way they govern other parts of the UK. Some feel superior to those who are not English. This is the genesis of the Scottish cringe.

Steve Biko Steve Biko
The vote on September 18, 2014 will be based upon how both the Scots and the English address the cringe and the holier than thou issues. It is of historical interest that Steve Biko, who fought for freedom and independence for black South Africans, said, "The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." His point was that if one group makes another group believe that they are inferior to the dominant group, the oppressed people in reality oppress themselves. He knew that the days of apartheid would end soon. Biko's real concern was Black Consciousness and avoiding what the Scot's call the cringe.
William Wallace William Wallace
William Wallace, one of the famed freedom fighters of Scottish independence movement nearly 700-years ago, said, "Every man dies. Not every man really lives." Sometimes, fear is a killer that stops Scots from really living as free men and women. Biko saw Wallace's truth and applied it to South Africa.

Therefore, we have had a short history lesson on Scottish independence. So what? Regardless of the way the Scots vote on independence, what difference will it make for any of us here in America? One could argue that no matter what the outcome is, it will not affect us even indirectly.

At one level, that assertion is true. The world the next day will be quite similar as it was the day before the vote. However, at another level, somewhere we, as people of the world, need to spread freedom to all people whether in Scotland or any other country in the world. The British Empire in 1922 consisted of 450 million of people...1/5 population of the world and 1/4 of the earth's landmass.

The British Empire in 1922

The British Empire in 1922

What remains of the British Empire today is Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, Gibraltar, a section of Antarctica, and a dozen small islands scattered around the globe.

The Empire today

The Empire today

The movement toward independence has taken less than a century. Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland are in varying places related to independence. The UK might soon consist of England, Gibraltar, a dozen islands, and some Antarctic ice and snow. Wales has voted 64% for devolution and Northern Ireland voted 80% in a recent poll wishing for some limited form of devolution. However, Scotland will be voting for complete independence.

The psychological issue is the English concern about the British Isles as a nation; it is on the verge devolving completely. The Scots will vote on independence in a year. Northern Ireland has been trying to resolve issues with the rest of Ireland and may soon unite with Ireland. Wales is watching what is happening with the both Northern Ireland and Scotland. The British Empire started devolving with the American Revolution. Since then, there is long lists of other countries that have left Britain for independence. Scotland might well be the next.

Nonetheless, there is one final reason for Americans looking at the Scottish quest for independence. It is a metaphor for women and minorities in our country. We have some women and minorities experiencing their version of the Scottish cringe. Some women and minorities buy into the notion that without help from men and/or whites that they cannot function well in our world. The question of how Scotland decides is up in the air and so is how women and minorities in America will vote.

Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream Speech Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream Speech"
Today is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream Speech." Interestingly, 700-years before William Wallace said much the same thing in Scotland about slavery, independence, and freedom: "My Son, Freedom is best, I tell thee true, of all things to be won. Then never live within the Bond of Slavery."


Scottish independence: Yes campaign

Scottish independence flag

Visit the Scottish Independence page to read more about this topic.