You may have noticed that President Obama made a wee remark about the Scottish independence referendum. Obviously, the media have leapt upon this, despite Obama speaking entirely about how independence would effect US interests (Trident most obviously springs to mind), and indeed saying that it was an issue for the people of Scotland to decide upon.
However, rather than dissecting every last syllable of what Obama said, why don’t we cast our minds back to the spring of 2011, when Barack and Michelle visited our neighbour, the Republic of Ireland. Here, Obama made an impassioned speech in the centre of Dublin. During it, he said this:
“In dreams begin responsibility. And embracing that responsibility, working toward it, overcoming the cynics and the naysayers and those who say “you can’t” — that’s what makes dreams real. That’s what Falmouth Kearney did when he got on that boat, and that’s what so many generations of Irish men and women have done here in this spectacular country. That is something we can point to and show our children, Irish and American alike. That is something we can teach them as they grow up together in a new century, side by side, as it has been since our beginnings.
This little country, that inspires the biggest things — your best days are still ahead. Our greatest triumphs — in America and Ireland alike — are still to come. And, Ireland, if anyone ever says otherwise, if anybody ever tells you that your problems are too big, or your challenges are too great, that we can’t do something, that we shouldn’t even try — think about all that we’ve done together. Remember that whatever hardships the winter may bring, springtime is always just around the corner. And if they keep on arguing with you, just respond with a simple creed: Is féidir linn. Yes, we can. Yes, we can. Is féidir linn.”
In September, we have a chance to make sure that Scotland’s ‘best days are still ahead’. President Obama was elected in 2008 on a wave of hope and optimism, a desire for change. That’s what we aspire for here in Scotland. We aspire to have the ability to write our own future, to elect our own governments, to inspire change and hope across the world.
Next time you are faced with a cynic and naysayer, someone who tells us ‘you can’t do that’, that our problems are too big, or our challenges are too great, that we can’t do something, that we shouldn’t even try, be sure to respond with those three little words that inspired a generation:
Yes, we can.
Image from House YouTube