WORDS are the stock in trade of politicians, used to clarify or distort, shift the emphasis, or switch from the general to the particular. Politicians obsess over how their messages “play”, and they strive for simple statements that go down well in sound bites, which the public can then swallow and repeat.

But as we continue to wander in circles, lost in the Brexit desert, we could be forgiven for feeling nauseous at the very thought of any more “breaking Brexit news” – even professional commentators are struggling to find something new to say. Some people have even joked that the ongoing stooshie in Westminster is the perfect box-set, but for most ordinary folk the daily omnishambles has intruded upon work and family discourse.

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Brexit could of course lead Scotland to a better future, if we are astute enough to see that No Deal is imminent, and prescient and brave enough to take our chance. Brexit overload has led some to join in with the mantra “let’s just get Brexit done”, but few would have expressed similar sentiments about bailing out the banks in 2008.

After a decade of stagnating wages, and many working people having to depend on food banks, bitter experience dictates that “getting it done” will mean anguish and penury for years to come. Attempts to dupe the electorate are compounded by news outlets with hidden agendas and vested interests. But critical thinking – and what we say and do – is the responsibility of the individual.

Amid the tumult, our moral compass may not have wavered, at least not for those with the capacity for independent thought. However, those who slept through indyref1 might be brought up short by the awakening that is required to envisage a path divergent from the one England favours. It is understandable that this new awareness challenges basic world views and challenges the ego, resulting in adversarial attitudes, but people must be given the space to come to their own conclusions, as the yen for broader horizons ultimately must come from within.

It is crucial going forward then, that we are able to trust our own instincts, able to rely on our sense of ourselves and able to resist being swayed by those who stir up public fears and resentments. We can all agree that democracy and civil rights must be upheld, and acknowledge the distinction between agreeing collectively, and indulging in lazy group thinking – by understanding why we uphold the rights of minorities, we live the words of Freedom Come All Ye.

As we get closer to the moment when Scotland can choose its own road, the political awakening that swept across Scotland in 2014 will be key. Whilst the Brexit watering hole may have led to a temporary delirium for some, the majority in Scotland will emerge ready to turn an ugly situation into something uplifting.

Some who are swithering may still say “my heart says Yes but my head says No” believing that momentous life happenings such as choosing a life partner are for the heart but choosing a career, or indeed a future, are for the head. The distinction is illusory, though romantics may say they are inseparable. After all, what would the mind do without the passions of the heart or without aspiration and hope? And what would become of our thoughts if they were denied the nourishment of art and culture?

When we reduce life to a mere series of dry calculations based on pros and cons, it loses its true value. A life well lived is one where we are safe and secure enough to indulge the higher needs of the human spirit; so, too, when we measure our country in terms of monetary values alone, we deny her inalienable right to a place beside the independent nations of the world.

A new road beckons, where there will be troughs as well as peaks, but it will be freely walked, for the heart and the head but also for something higher than ourselves.

Malcolm Robertson
Dalgety Bay, Fife