It’s now been over a week since Scotland chose one of two paths, and rejected the opportunity to become an independent country. If you ask anybody that knows me, it’s not been the best of weeks for me. Most things that could go wrong have done. Even the joy of seeing Hearts defeat Cowdenbeath 5-1 on Saturday afternoon was hit by the sad news that a fellow supporter at the game never returned home.
Despite this I’ve already refound a vigour and determination to go again in making this part of the world somewhere better for people to live. Articles by the excellent David Greig and Zara Kitson, blogs from friends across the world, speeches in Parliament and Facebook posts by friends have all contributed to lifting the mood of gloom that had pervaded for the past week.
We must remember what the referendum was about, which to my mind was providing a vehicle to make people’s lives more fulfilling across these islands. The majority spoke and have chosen to go down another path, hopefully with the same end goal of making this corner of the planet better.
The issues that we rallied around still exist (and this was put over more eloquently by David Greig than I ever could do), and despite not having the full powers to tackle these issues that I was hoping for, we must still do all we can to help alleviate them. Perhaps we have to do this with even more fervour than we would have after a Yes vote, given the limitations to finding solutions due to not having a fully sovereign Parliament that can be more easily held to account on matters from defence to child poverty. There is no time for moping, feeling sorry or waiting for something to happen for us.
The energy that existed within the Yes campaign, and from the people inside it, is still there. Yes, the people may be disheartened, but time does heal. Sure, for some quicker than others, but there is work to be done in improving this country. It’s been overwhelming to see the rising level in support towards all groups that were involved in the campaign – from the SNP, Greens and SSP dramatically increasing their membership, to RIC Edinburgh having to host a meeting outside because the room they’d booked was too small, and to the incredible wave of momentum behind National Collective, from new contributors to engagement on social media. The momentum and desire for change is still there.
As a society, we can’t stop our efforts now – politicians still need to be held to account on their promises (unsurprisingly thinking of one promise in particular). We may have voted against retaining power in Scotland, but we can never afford for our idealism to be crushed. Keep fighting for your ideals, whether that is in ensuring that every family can put food on the table, or to make sure that our society respects people equally no matter their ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or disability.
Institutionalised fear may have overcome hope on this occasion, but there’s a funny thing about hope – it never vanishes completely. It can’t be defeated so long as we keep going, keep thinking, innovating and imagining better. We all know that this is not as good as things can get – No voters as well as Yes voters don’t want progress to a more equal society to stop here – and once we dust ourselves down, the establishment will know that the thorn in their side hasn’t gone away.
This has been a horrible week, but it’s over. My advice to anyone who is reading this is to keep the faith that you’ve displayed in being able to build a better society. Victory only comes for the establishment when they stop you from believing in change.
But if the Yes campaign taught me anything, it is that that will not happen. The hope in our hearts and minds didn’t end at 5am on the 19th September. It’s time to use it once more, and to keep striving for better. It’s time to move forward once again, and bring about the changes that we yearn for.
Image from Robb Mcrae