The big topic in the UK these days is the Scottish referendum that is coming up. A 'no' vote means nothing changes for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; a 'yes' vote means the United Kingdom waves goodbye to Scotland.
Though my 14 year old child grows up halfway across the world from the country of her birth, we put conscious effort into making her know her heritage by ensuring that she spends long summers at home, has constant contact with family at home, reads books that make her proud of her motherland through an appreciation of her history (a short list given at the end of this post) and most of all, live like a Brit in a corner of Asia that is forever Great Britain, namely hang out with other Brits in pubs and watch the Premier League on television.
Whenever she is home in London, she trains at the same fight club in Woolwich as her grandfather did half a century ago. She has been fighting in this club since she was eight years old.
'Nanny," she would say, tugging at her grandmother's sleeve. "I have beaten up all the English boys."
Georgina is also quarter Scottish. Through her father, she is related to the Shaw clan of Glasgow. It wasn't an aristocratic ruling class clan, but a large scattering of rambunctious, hearty Scots who live in council estates all over Glasgow and other parts of the country. By all accounts, they are good, decent, working class folks who drank too much, but solid folks nonetheless, the sort of people who make up the ballast of a country.
Perhaps we had not done enough to instill 'Scottishness' in Georgina. It had always been England, England, for this lass who was born in the city of Westminster, London, England. She has never been to Scotland, though she had seen her late grandfather parading around in the Shaw clan's kilt, often for parties or to lark around with his grandchildren in the garden.
The relationship between the Scots and Britannia had always been turbulent from the days of the Roman Empire when the Picti people (who ruled the region that is now Scotland) and the Romans who ruled Britannia, right through to the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513, to the betrayal of Mary Queen of Scots by her cousin Queen Elizabeth I of England (hmmmmm, who betrayed who?). The history of the two nations had been bloody, full of intrigue and acts of bravery, but in 1707, the Acts of Union formally united Scotland with England and Wales under the flag Great Britain. From then on, we are one, better together.
"If the Scots leave, there will be more money for the rest of us, right?" She asked in her usual no-nonsense, black-or-white take on the world.
"There's the North Sea oil and gas," I snapped. "That belongs to Scotland, which we will lose out on."
"Yes, Mum, but how long will that last?" Was her quick retort.
I am no match for this girl. As soon as I spoke, I realised it for the umpteenth time. It is not about resources. It is not about the distance between Edinburgh and London. It is about something else deeper, more ever-lasting.
So here is a short open letter to G and all the teenagers who have a vested interest in the future of the United Kingdom:
Don't look at figures and data. Don't look at what the benefits are for you. Instead, mine deep into your hearts and souls, and remember your forefathers. Figures, data and benefits are all tied to the political party that is currently in power, the latter is about who you are, your dreams and your aspirations. Your long-term future. What you will leave behind for your future generations.
I would like to quote the late Steve Jobs (though his quote is related to the US of A, the message is still the same):
"As individuals, people are inherently good. I have a somewhat more pessimistic view of people in groups. And I remain extremely concerned when I see what's happening in our country, which is in so many ways the luckiest place in the world. We don't seem to be excited about making our country a better place for our kids."
Please don't confuse your government for your country. They are separate entities. You could dislike your government, but do not let that dislike affect your love for your country. And most of all, please don't sell your referendum vote on Ebay for peanuts.
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