[I wasn’t going to comment more on the whole issue of Scottish Independence, but what I read in the newspaper today made me think.]
As a child, I envied Mr. Spock.
Why? The ability to suppress one’s emotions, to not HAVE any emotions, seemed ideal to me. My time at school was not happy. It would have been far easier if I hadn’t had any feelings to hurt, or no need to invest my hopes in ambitions for the future that were continually squashed. Emotions seemed dangerous to me. A person in the grip of emotion could – no, would – do dangerous things that would make no sense, in the cold light of day.
Indeed, so many problems our police forces have to solve are caused, not by cold calculation, but emotions running riot.
So I don’t trust intense emotion. Does that make me a cold fish? I don’t really have any feelings about that, one way or the other <grin>.
The ‘YES’ campaign for Scotland is basing its campaign primarily upon emotion. Independence seems a worthwhile dream for us all because … well, who doesn’t want to be independent? Not to have to put up with parents, teachers, banks, bureaucrats, lawyers, policemen and everyone else who, in all manner of ways, curb our personal independence? We thrill to movies like Braveheart (which was stunningly inaccurate, as a depiction of the real Wallace) and allow the tidal waves of emotion to push us onwards.
The SNP has taken advantage of this by invoking Robert the Bruce. This is particularly annoying to me because no one in their right mind would want to live in the Scotland of Robert the Bruce (or, for that matter, the England of Edward I, II and III.) By our standards, they were hellholes for the vast majority of the population. Indeed, the whole issue of the Scottish Wars of Independence was far more blurred than the SNP cared to admit.
I agree the stories are thrilling. And they lead to heartening emotions.
But sometimes these emotions lead us to mistakes.
I write all this because I read in yesterday’s paper that the ‘YES’ campaign has moved ahead of the ‘NO’ campaign for the first time. Personally, I’m sceptical. No one rang me and asked for my opinion. The only true large-scale opinion poll will be the referendum itself.
However, Alex Salmond has used this to boost his campaign.
I’m distrustful. No, I’m rather more than just distrustful.
Emotionally, I will happily admit the issue has a certain appeal. Cold calculation, however, suggests otherwise. Indeed, I have a feeling that Salmond himself understands the weakness of his case, because he is piling on the emotions in the hopes of making the voters drunk on them. (How many stupid decisions have you made when drunk?)
The ‘NO’ campaign has a weakness. It is, basically, campaigning for the status quo, while there are people who think that chance is always good or that they will benefit from the new Scottish order. There are few emotions to be found in the status quo.
But cold calculation calls the SNP’s claims into doubt.
The morning after the referendum, we will open our eyes to a new world. I think it behoves us to think long and hard about where we want to go – and what it will cost us to get there.
And, while we’re at it, stop thinking with our emotions.
PS – I found a pamphlet supporting the ‘YES’ campaign in Morningside Library. I’m not actually sure if it was an official publication or not, but (quite apart from the sheer level of wishful thinking) it included a section on the prospects for the pandas in Edinburgh Zoo! I think there are more important issues to think about where independence is concerned.