A few years ago I threw myself into a nine month long journey. Some of my friends from the clerical world will have done something similar lasting 40 days but, as a lay person, I felt the Ignatian Execises spread over a nine month period would be a better fit. There's much I could tell you about the journey but one of the key questions that came to me was this: 'What is it you really want?' It was interesting because I'd assumed I already knew. One of the things I realised that I didn't want was any involvement in politics. (I hadn't quite counted on the referendum coming along!)
I'm breaking my own rules until September 19th. Why?
There is an amazing political discourse running across Scotland that brings in so many people who, like me, have no interest in being part of politics and who have nothing personal to gain from the outcome on September 18th. But for the first time in a very long time we all go to the polls knowing each one of our votes really counts. There are no 'safe' seats, no rotten boroughs and no marginals where an MP might forge a career in political power from the ticked boxes in a quarter of any given constituency. This time my vote, your vote, Alex Salmond's and Gordon Brown's are all in one big box. No wards, no constituencies just a question of who makes the bigger pile when the papers are all in. We get one chance to say Yes or No to the future. Only a Yes can take you to the possibility of a changed Scotland and wholly altered UK as, up until now, nothing has been offered resembling vision from those that want to keep the Union.
So the question is the same one that my bright eyed priest asked me that day in his study in the parish house during those Ignation execises, 'What is it you really want? What is it your heart most desires?' As I write this I think that question is probably the one we all need to answer if we want to settle our minds on the great referendum question.
Here's what I dream about: I want a country which has the courage to talk to itself without thinking it has to talk via London. I want a country which puts people first and gives them a fairer share of the enormous wealth at our disposal. I want a country who plays an increasingly positive role in international relations but doesn't carry the threat of nuclear weapons to get its way. I want a country who continues to see unemployment fall but starts to ensure that people who are in work are well represented by trade unions, are paid a living wage and are not harnessed to zero-hours contracts. I want a country which doesn't just pay lip-service to the idea of a National Health Service but enshrines its existence in a written constitution. I want a country where payment to a political party doesn't buy you power in an unelected chamber. I want a country where newcomers are not feared or vilified but welcomed as equal partners in a new nation.
If you want some, all or all of these things and more vote Yes on September 18th.