“O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.”
This is one of my favourite Burns quotes. I try to apply it to my own life and often feel I let myself down. Then I started to apply it to Scotland and got rather annoyed.
Travel the world and talk to the vast majority of people and you don’t need them to explain their countries’ place in the world, they don’t have to explain that they are not just a region of a larger neighbour, they don’t have to get bogged down on “we are British and we live in the United Kingdom, but we are also Scottish.”. We don’t have the recognition that comes with true nationhood.
How often do we have to listen as television news, entertainment or sport, use “England” and “Britain” interchangeably, blissfully unaware that A.) they are wrong B.) There is a whole nation seething every time we are slighted by this.
Even Adolf Hitler thought he was fighting just England: “England, unlike in 1914, will not allow herself to blunder into a war lasting for years…. Such is the fate of rich countries.. .Not even England has the money nowadays to fight a world war. What should England fight for? You don’t get yourself killed over an ally.” We went to war and helped defeat a guy who didn’t even recognise we were there.
Everytime, I try to register something on-line I search in hope for “Scotland” in the drop down box, I invariably have to keep going until I get to U.
Every house in the country must have had the tea-towel listing what the Scots have given the world (I won’t do the list, it’s ingrained in us all.) We sent Explorers, Pioneers and Founding Fathers the length and breadth of the globe as Winston Churchill famously said “Of all the small nations of this earth, perhaps only the ancient Greeks surpass the Scots in their contribution to mankind.” Yet we left so little for ourselves when we joined a political union that has kept us sidelined on the world stage. We control 25% of Europe’s potential tide and wind energy, yet sit behind the UK representative in EU Energy Meetings, similar with fishing and defence (despite holding 100% of the UK’s nuclear stockpile.) We have no voice.
So back to the Burns quote. The honest truth is that the other nations don’t see us, we are an Invisible Nation. Some may have a vague notion of who we are, but it most certainly does not match the vision we have of ourselves.
It’s time to take back what is already ours and claim our rightful place in the world.
If you liked this have a look at https://www.facebook.com/universalserviceblog for more of the same.