LAST week’s incredible celestial events reminded us just how small we humans are in the scheme of things. For sure, we get to strut our stuff on Earth’s catwalk, but ultimately, Nature trumps anything we can do. No matter how all-powerful and all-knowing we think we are, the tangible excitement and interest in Friday’s solar eclipse by the Sheldons in our midst (and his C-men of course) indicates how little we understand the planetary system that provides rhythm and structure to our lives, nor even the small bit we inhabit.
All we can aim for is to contribute what we can, to take control of what we can influence, and shape and fashion it to suit. As we are seeing – much to the consternation of the established, entitled and currently empowered elite – such a mindset is increasingly evident in our country, in our lives, our homes and our communities. We want to be in charge of our own destiny.
I make no apology for offering up the example of Women for Independence – again – in this regard. One of the most remarkable things about this modern monstrous regiment is just how much this self-starting movement has been ignored by all those documenting the referendum campaign and its aftermath. If we are lucky, we get a fleeting mention; invariably how we came about and what we did, if referenced at all, is misconstrued, misinterpreted and misunderstood. It annoys but also bemuses. The reason why Women for Independence is being less than subtly airbrushed out of history by the mainly male commentariat is because we scare the bejaysus out of them. If they ignore us, maybe we will just fade away. But these mothers, daughters and above all sisters are no longer content to stand in the shadows.
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By refusing to don the invisibility cloaks society has determined befit women of a certain age and status, Women for Independence will continue to grow and thrive as a national and local campaigning movement, becoming more visible, not less so. These past months, I have witnessed an energy and enthusiasm not dimmed by defeat in September but galvanised by it. I’ve watched in shock and awe and no small amount of regret, for having opted out of its immediate future, I’m aware I’m being left behind. That ship is sailing without me.
For a while I thought my contribution to our body politic was to get me a perch from which to cast a beady eye upon its doings and witter on about it a bit. As some suggested, I appeared to have found my niche and it suited me rather well. Creating the blog A Burdz Eye View in 2010 – for the name and concept is mine, STV, but you are welcome to borrow it – was the right move at the right time. Using a lifetime’s interest in politics and a decade’s engagement in policy-making and influencing to add a female perspective to all things political, I had hoped it would encourage other women to muscle in on this quite masculine world: some have but not nearly enough.
But that was then. Before the referendum. Before I – as much as everyone else – realised that we are not finished, not nearly. Of the 55 per cent who voted No, I would hazard that at most, only 30 per cent are content to stay as we are and for things to stand still. The rest of us – a majority of the population, no less – are up for it. We have boarded a train headed for change, precise destination unknown. We are all part of this journey, including those currently dawdling at the back, with a significant number set on contributing talents, time, skills and knowledge, each finding a way to do so, as best we can. For most it will be enough simply to vote – almost in defiance – for change; for over 100,000 joining the SNP has signalled their intent; for thousands of others, they are finding causes, groups and movements with which to align.
How I contribute is also changing. This is my last column for The National. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to be involved from the outset and I wish it well. Keep reading, subscribing and buying to ensure this vital channel and platform stays with us, helping to document our travels.
The only constant there is currently is change. Everything political, societal and economic is shifting and not necessarily progressively. Zero per cent inflation, trillions of pounds of public debt, harsh austerity measures, wicked welfare reform which will ensure that at least one in four of Scotland’s children will grow up knowing nothing but want, worse prospects for Generation Scot Y than their parents and grandparents all point to a harsher climate. It’s no way to run a country and Scotland is signalling it won’t stand for it.
But we can also take heart from how far our nation has travelled already. We rather like the taste of power, control and responsibility allowed us by incremental degrees of devolution and yes please, we would like some more. Scotland has changed, is changing and will change more.
Nearly half the population has a dream that will never die. But it won’t necessarily become a reality in our lifetimes, unless and until we all determine to make our contribution to these, the changin’ times. There is much work to do. Let’s get to it.