Being Scottish

What does it mean to me to be Scottish?

It means belonging to a country with a great deal of natural beauty and geological interest: a country that is quite small in area yet diverse in its landscapes and lengthy in its coastline.

Considering the human, cultural and historical aspects, it means being part of a country whose people have had a disproportionate influence on the world - in particular as philosophers and scientists during the Scottish Enlightenment of the late 18th century (the time of David Hume and Adam Smith and James Hutton), and as engineers and inventors then and since.

Less positively, it means being belonging to a nation that has been broken and injured in various ways through the centuries - divided between Highlanders and Lowlanders, and amongst warring clans, and between political and religious factions; deprived of many of its fittest and most enterprising people by the clearances of the 18th and 19th centuries; damaged in confidence and in cultural continuity by the domination of a more populous and powerful neighbour; and oppressed by the evils of poor housing and diet so as to have, in certain areas, some of the worst health records and life expectancies in Europe.

On the other hand, some aspects of the Scottish response to these evils are commendable.  The experience of injustice and oppression has left us with a strong tradition of egalitarianism, democracy and solidarity and a sympathy with underdogs throughout the world.  So far as the Scottish political culture has these characteristics I am proud to be identified with it.

In this sense, part of being Scottish for me is that I am not only Scottish but a citizen of the world, concerned for global justice and the good of humankind as a whole.  Being true to this aspect of Scottishness means renouncing parochialism and prejudice and embracing universality.  And in loving my own country and the particularities of its culture I do not deny the value of others' countries and cultures, but rather affirm it, as I recognise that their countries are to them what Scotland is to me.


Related topics

About me
Us and RoW
Global and local and regional
Independence and interdependence
Adam Smith
Being Jewish

[Page created: 2011-11-28.]

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