Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Referendum

The day has arrived, friends. Millions of Scots are voting in an independence referendum, colloquially known as IndyRef. I imagine that, if a Yes victory occurs, in 2514 they will hold an event called Indy 500. But I digress.

I am pretty glad I don't get to or have to vote in this referendum. For that matter, it's probably a good thing that I don't have enough stake in a foreign vote to have a confirmed opinion. However, I think I can state with some certainty the high likelihood of the following statement's being true: This referendum is more important than any election that has occurred in the US in my lifetime, and probably since at least the Civil War.

The idea is to undo a union that has existed for 307 years, i.e. longer than the United States has been a nation. Indeed, 307 is a conservative (Tory?) estimate, since a personal union of the monarch (though not of the kingdoms) has existed since 1603, when James VI of Scotland, being in some way the closest non-Catholic relative of Elizabeth I, became James I of England. This state of affairs did not persist overlong, since the seventeenth century included such things as the English Civil War, and the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688 that saw the overthrow of James VII and II. It was only in 1707 under Queen Anne that the actual United Kingdom was formed (and even then it did not include Ireland till 1801). And then of course the Germans came, an event about which I will make no further comment. This history lesson is now completed.

I don't have many Answers about the Rightness of any given Side in the Referendum. I do, however, have a Number of Musings.

1. I believe the Referendum is seen as a victory for "21st-century democracy." I am not convinced that a) democracy in itself is of high importance or b) that the current century knows how to go about it better than any or every previous century. I understand the importance of freedom, but I think it comes from God and not from a freedom exchange inherent in humanity or any particular political system.

2. I wonder how this Referendum will affect other quests for independence, whether recognized as legitimate by the United States and its allies or not. The referendum in Crimea, which was widely condemned, comes to mind; so, too, do the aspirations of Catalonia. And Texas, I suppose, to use an example closer to the homes of most of my readers. Will the Union of the States endure much longer than the Union of the Kingdoms that once ruled them? (Assuming, of course, that a Yes victory occurs.)

3. I have realized that I am not such a medievalist that I automatically assume that if a state of affairs existed in the Middle Ages, it must be fitting in some way. Scotland was independent for much of the medieval period, but I have not found myself allied to the Yes campaign for this reason.

4. I still love Scottish traditional music.

5. My final Musing regards how people I know would vote and why they would do so. Feel free to share your own Musings on this topic.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A poem

The chances we take define us, my father used to say
As he sat in his old recliner, and watched his children play.
That ace was a keeper, Samuel; that deuce was a loss, Maureen;
His sense was a tad too knowing, and his eye was a mite too keen.

He played when he wasn’t watching, and he won when he wasn’t tired.
I wanted to see the time come round when his winning streak expired.
But when he found he was losing, he’d know it was time to quit;
He would win, and after that winning, he’d say he was tired of it.

I found as I grew in knowledge, that his skill was a way of life.
He kept things that wanted keeping, and his judgment cut like a knife.
He laid things that wanted laying, and gained what he wished to gain.
But he always insisted grimly that a cheater must end in pain.

The last night my father gambled was the night that he played with me.
He thought my hand held a seven; but it happened to harbor three.
When he saw my hand on the table, he knew he could win no more,
And he shot himself with a piece he’d won from a man that he’d rendered poor.

I buried my father early; the sun had an hour to sleep.
I dug till my palms were blistered; I dug till the grave was deep.
The things that he lost undid him in games he could clearly win.
His final opponent cheated; the sinner had met his sin.