As the referendum debate rages on and ramps up towards its conclusion on September 18th, perhaps it would suit us all well to step back from it for a moment and look at Scotland from our own individual perspectives and not that of the media, the politicians or the campaigns.
I therefore invite you, whether you are a YES, No, or one of the Undecided, to pause a while, sit back and relax, take yourself away from the referendum noise, and instead quietly reflect on the Scotland you want to see, the Scotland you want to live in, and the Scotland you wish to see evolve from all of this.
Like the painter who steps back from the details of the vision they wish to portray in order to see more clearly what the whole picture looks like, we too in a sense are the artists who aspire to create this new vision of a modern day Scotland, and we too must step back and try to see the whole picture, not just the policy details or the media spin.
So I ask you to put aside your papers, the tv, and whatever politicians or campaigners say, and think for yourself what you want to see, and maybe then this will aid you see a vision you had not even previously thought of. Perhaps it may even aid you to decide how you really want to vote in the referendum, or it may even lead to further questions that you want answered?
First off: What values are most personally important to you for the future of Scotland?
In a recent non scientific study 900 people across Scotland were asked for one word or short phrase that would describe the values which were most important to them when talking about Scotland.
Here are the top 10 of over 400 values they came up with.
Perhaps some of them may chime with you, or maybe you have your own, in which case what would yours be?
TOP TEN VALUES
The next question we must ask ourselves is this:
How can we make Scotland a better place to be?
When we think on this question, we must broaden out what we perceive as our core values and apply them to issues of society.
We start to look outwith ourselves and begin to view ourselves and our core beliefs in relation to our communities, our area,Scotland, and Scotlands place in the world.
We begin to look at issues such as the media keeps going on about,business, the economy, health, education,defense and international relations with others.
What do we aspire to there? How can we envisage Scotland as being a better place to live, not only for ourselves but for generations that follow.
Whether we wish to vote YES or NO in the referendum is relevant here, because really what we are asking ourselves is this: Given what we perceive as our core values,and these related to our societal values, which do we perceive will suit these values most, remaining in the UK, or being an Independent Scotland? In effect the referendum question; Should Scotland be an Independent Country?
Before we can begin to answer that question, we need to examine the issues, and our aspirations, and how best to put these aspirations into action?
We all have our own issues and aspirations, but how well are they being met, and how best are these aspirations to be served?
Economy and Employment:
What is the right attitude to have about money?
Are we happy that this country has the right attitude to money? Or should we be less materialistic?
Should we see monetary wealth as the ultimate virtue? Or should we seek a more equal distribution of wealth?
Should we castigate the unemployed as scroungers, or should we encourage people to judge our governance and society by the way it treats the poor, the vulnerable and the disempowered?
Are we satisfied that the Law is related to and interconnected with economic fairness?
In effect there is no Law for the rich and another for the poor.
Investing In Work and Valuing every person:
Are we satisfied that enough is being done to encourage full employment through meaningful economic activity?
Encouraging the creation of jobs to match peoples abilities?
More work outwith the public sector?
Decentralization of work opportunities?
Challenges to Zero hour contracts?
Salary caps on the highest earners?
Living wage for all workers?
Encouragement of creativity,invention and entrepreneurial activity?
Is Scotland currently competitive enough?
If not? Why not?
What possible things do we need to see happen, whether as part of the Uk or Independent?
Investment in Business?
Attracting more business to Scotland?
Create a new manufacturing base such as renewables?
Insuring fairer Banking?
Investment in Science and technology where we already excel?
New transport infrastructure?
Education, Health and Defence:
Do we wish to see a continuation of Free education for all?
Or do we think that only those who are prepared and able to pay should benefit from the highest education?
Do we place too little value on manual skills in relation to academic skills?
How crucial is equal opportunity for all?
On Health, are we currently doing enough to meet the challenges placed on our NHS?
Should Health ultimately become something which we pay for like any other service?
Should we be spending less on defence and more on peace?
Should we be encouraging a and pursuing a peace making foreign policy?
How much should we be contributing to humanitarian aid?
How important is a nuclear free Clyde to us?
Is the welfare state doing enough to ensure no child goes cold and hungry?
Are the elderly and disabled being properly cared for?
Is enough being done to enable people come out of unemployment and Into work?
How difficult is it to escape the benefits trap?
How well does the media actually express your views?
How would you identify yourself?
Are you Scottish, British, Both?
How important is identity to you?
Do you believe in yourself?
Do you have a poor or good image of Scotland?
Do you have confidence that the UK has your best interests at heart?
Does either Scotland or the UK meet up with your expectations?
What would make you feel better about where you stay?
The lists go on, these are just pointers for you to examine.
Essentially, whether you are for Independence, or wish to remain within the union, what you must decide for yourself is what best suits your core values, and how well are they being met?
You then have to ask yourself, which of the two options in the referendum ballot are most likely to meet with your values and aspirations. In effect, what you think is best for the sort of Scotland you want to live in.
However you choose to vote, ask yourself, how can we in Scotland achieve a better country, and how do we help shape it it?
On September 18th you will be the artist that helps shape our future, and your childrens future,and the generations to follow.
You have the greatest responsibility, one never asked of the peoples of Scotland before.
Your choice will help shape the future of our nation, take not your decision lightly. For by history you shall be judged!