700 years after Braveheart, the Scottish people can once again free themselves from British power, although this time without William Wallace shouting for freedom.
Tomorrow, the people of Scotland get a chance to participate in a historic referendum to determine whether it will become an independent nation, or remain part of the United Kingdom.
Having spent five months in Scotland this past year, I couldn’t be more excited for the Scottish people. The Scots have long been overshadowed as part of the United Kingdom by big brother England, and after an unhappy marriage of 307 years they can finally decide to divorce their neighbors to the south, or decide that maybe union isn’t so bad after all.
While spending my semester in Glasgow, I was amazed at the rugged and lively spirit of the people surrounding me. There is no doubt whatsoever the Scots have a colorful history and culture that is far different from anywhere else in the UK, and that the Scots take a lot of pride in that. Nowhere else is haggis celebrated quite so dearly or kilts and bagpipes a common occurrence. The traditions were a large reason why I wanted to spend so much time there. I can’t even begin to remember the number of times complete strangers struck up wonderful conversations with me in Scotland, which was definitely not the case in England. I thought the Midwest had cornered the market on friendliness, but I was certainly proved wrong.
To see an independent Scotland would be to realize the dream of a proud nation claiming a unique tradition and realizing the dream of thousands of Scots throughout countless generations. There’s a certain pride in being Scottish, a term that means so much more to so many people than simply being British. Even the Scottish brogue that doesn’t even seem like actual English is different from everywhere else. Scotland certainly has ever right to want to become its own sovereign nation and recognize its deserved place in the world.
However, as great as it would be see an independent Scotland, I worry about its independent future. The economic forecast of Scotland is shady at best, with London threatening to exclude them from the pound should they secede, and the EU making them go through an application process should they want to use the Euro. Not having an official currency is a huge question mark for a country and may cause some serious financial difficulties for quite some time. The United Kingdom has a highly established global status and leaving it would effectively mean having to start over from scratch. Granted, Scotland does have large oil reserves on the North Sea, but relying on a nonrenewable resource for extended financial security is a pretty gutsy thing to do.
Personally, I hope Scotland becomes its own country. It is impossible not to absolutely fall in love with the country if you spend any time there at all. It has never been truly happy with its forced marriage with England, as the referendum clearly brings to light. As cliché as it is to write this, Scotland has a spirit it about it I didn’t feel anywhere else in the UK. From hard-working industrial Glasgow to the mesmerizing lochs and glens of the Highlands, it’s a special place.
No matter what the Scots decide to do, I wish them the best in their future. I was a little concerned at some of the reactions I received from people when I asked them how they were voting, as back in May many didn’t seem to know or care. Hopefully by this point they have their minds made up for their future, but their decision isn’t about my feelings. I don’t have to necessarily live with the consequences of starting a new nation or remaining unhappily unionized, so regardless of what I think I hope the people choose what’s best. Because ultimately, there’s no other country I feel deserves the best for its future.