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Voluntary separations

Andy Murray – well done you!
And now of course (Sir) Andrew Murray will be considered fully British again too, no more will he be that dour Scots bloke that never smiles but is quite good at tennis.
I remember the time before last year’s Olympics when he was not a Grand slam winner and too many people in the more Southern sections of this Island were happy to regionalise the poor man.
Now of course we all love him. I have to confess I was never a fan myself until I watching him play in the mixed doubles at London 2012 with Laura Robson. For me that silver medal performance was a much greater sign that he had reached a different place in his attitude and maturity. In that pairing he had to play the experienced older hand, supporting, coaching and encouraging the younger player and doing a great job of it. It was fun to watch and I think that experience has been really helpful for both players. Not that I know anything at all about tennis; but I think I know as much as the next man about people and I think both players learnt a lot in that competition. If I am right in that then it goes down as another one of those unexpected pivotal moments as they were last minute entrants to the mixed doubles as it was.
Going back to the British/Scottish debate it can be something I find quite distasteful as I have an aversion to being tribal. It is too much a natural condition for us as humans to split ourselves into tribes and us and it never ends well because we are not very good as a race in keeping it within the boundaries of good natured competition. It doesn’t matter if it is country, football team, religion (or indeed religious denomination with a particular religion where the tribalism can be even worse), or whether we are convinced Star Trek is better than Star Wars. It saddens me to see people get so worked up about something – often something that doesn’t really matter in the greater scheme of life and death – that they can descend into out and out hostility at the drop of a hat (and possibly the downing of too much beer, though it is a bit easy to blame alcohol alone, it is just a facilitator in some contexts). I wish we could just agree to differ and stop making it into a “You are either for us or against us” scenario and enjoy making fun of each other more rather than trying to prove we’re better or something and recognise we are all different and frankly weird in our own ways. I have a friend – she knows who she is – that hated Avril Lavigne’s Sk8er Boi (sic) not because of musical tastes reasons but because it implied you could not like ballet and Iron Maiden at the same time. She has a point. I like both Star Wars and Star Trek franchises though I think Doctor Who is better. But I don’t feel I need to prove the point (ever).
In the end I hope Scotland doesn’t split from the UK. I don’t see what that is supposed to achieve apart from giving politicians more job opportunities to massage their egos and continue to promote out of date insular thinking. It is certainly not going to help anyone in Scotland with most of our global issues (there is a clue there in the term). If we are ever going to get a handle on the world’s problems we have to come together, not build new borders (or rebuild old ones that have been managed without for centuries). In reality, most of Europe is pretty fragile and federalist in structure and you lose count of the regions that want their own “independence”.
But like a child leaving home as a new adult “independence” also brings responsibility and not just towards your own people but to the greater global community.
That said it is fair to be worried about us all becoming a bit bland. But that’s a different “I” word to my mind, to campaign on that off Identity (and culture) rather than Independence. We should treasure the things that make that part of the world special and unique.
That is about people and what is important to them, it is not something that is preserved by border posts and political separation. I really wish sometimes that we all – and I include myself as I am subject to this sometimes despite having a rant today – could just grow up, embrace and enjoy our diversity for the gift it is (without it we won’t survive and get thoroughly bored). I keep thinking that true independence means consciously acting as a cooperative unique individual within a local and global community and not allow ourselves to enslaved yet again by a mob, albeit often a mob of our choosing.

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