There may seem little point in writing a letter to you tiny humans so new and barely cognisant. I get it – you’re closer to being a bunch of unorganised cells than you are to making political history. Right now, the major concerns are stamp collecting – getting every little badge of humanhood that turns you into a real person; teeth, inches, words, hopes, ideas, attitudes, morals and eventually love, death, and taxes. You’ve no idea what balance is, or how difficult it is to find, let alone mastered it enough to have taken the first ungraceful steps on your life path. And while you may look perfectly harmless there, disguised in that little cotton romper, smelling of puffed powder and warm milk, but let me tell you – I have you sussed. You are the scariest thing in the world. You are a visual reminder of my life’s chronology. Of all the things I haven’t done. You, oh tiny sleepy thing, are potential in a people suit. One brush of that dandelion clock hair, and I stare at the future – a lifetime of potential, choices, mistakes and opportunity. So as someone only qualified by having spent almost three decades on this godforsaken green blob, though who still has enough mileage to give a damn, I want to talk to you about the future.
See, we’ve been doing some thinking around here. Thinking about the sort of place we want you to know. The truth is, little ones, the world isn’t always nice. For reasons that I can’t easily explain, once you pop out that womb, things are complicated out here. Life is pretty simple when you’re twenty inches long, but as we grow we sometimes lose sight of how to care for one another. If there’s one thing I’ve managed to grasp in my time here so far, it’s that you have to remember what it feels like to give for another person. Everyone is equal, and everyone deserves your love. You won’t know what that really means until you’re the recipient of one of life’s extraordinary kindnesses. And you will be.
Babies, I’m writing you this letter the day before Scotland’s biggest decision. For the past two years the people of this awkward little country, pegged onto another, have been thinking about you. We’ve been thinking about razing it to the ground, but we’ve also been dreaming of rebuilding.
There are ugly things in the world that I don’t want to fleck your consciousness with – I know all too well that in time you will understand what war is and what poverty is. I know you’ll see waste and injustice. You’ll ache as resources are squandered and hope is diminished. But I hope that this place – the land of your birth – will be a place that doesn’t force these things on you, through circumstance or structure. That you will be leaders armed with patience, understanding and charity.
I hope you live in a country that doesn’t house weapons of mass destruction in its back garden. One that refuses to use dangerous military posturing as a deterrent that could devastate the planet for everyone. I hope you’re thriving in a progressive nation that has boldly embraced nuclear disarmament. One that proudly believes a commitment to mass murder is morally bankrupt and that budgets should be spent on preserving life, rather than destroying it.
I want your Scotland to be one that doesn’t send its people, its resources or its wealth into illegal wars at extraordinary human cost. In your Scotland, I hope no one dies for someone else’s political agenda. I hope you can protect yourselves humanely, understanding that the real threats to society are issues of land, food, water, energy, climate and global injustice – not defence of borders.
I want you to go places, and have every opportunity to blossom. I want you to know that a young person from Maryhill has the same right to education as one from Morningside, and the same help to get there. You don’t know what they are yet, but you’ve been born into a country with more top universities per head than any other, so your education is one that will give you the best tools for the future, whatever you want to be. If that’s the path you choose.
I want you to know compassion – for your health to be a priority that doesn’t depend on wealth. Healthcare will continue to be a right for everyone – a state provision that puts human life before income and affordability.
I want you to grow up knowing that Scotland has and will only have the government it chooses. That your voice and your needs will be democratically heard by the people who can make a difference. That your Scotland nurtures a cohesive society with a social conscience – where solidarity, provision and opportunity are normal and expected. Everyone should be able to reach their full potential, and contribute to society meaningfully. Women will not have a fiscal expiration date, be shackled by stereotype and expectation, or be forced to choose between a career and a family.
I hope your Scotland is small, democratic and economically thriving, growing from the resources and the ingenuity of its land and its people. Its skills are bountiful and diverse – I hope you know it and make the most of it. I hope your country has the dignity to face when they get it wrong, but also the power to changes things as it evolves.
Babies, I hope there is soul. I hope you live in a country with equality for a heart. Where your civil rights are eked out, inked out and carried at the heart of every decision made for you. You’ll live in a place of safety that doesn’t triage need by social hierarchy. A place that always has your back, no matter how bad it gets.
I know that’s a lot to digest when you can’t speak – but I hope that one day, you’ll read this and know how much we care about you. And not just you – all of you yet to make an appearance. By the time this reaches you, whatever happens tomorrow, I hope you know that we tried, and we did everything we could to make this country beautiful. And this, our promise to you babies, is that no matter which way the sun sets on the 19th, we will never give up on you or these dreams. And neither should you.