The wrong side of history

After IndyRef I was hurt, after Brexit I was angry, but when I woke up this morning I was genuinely horrified and more than a little afraid.

I grew up in the Outer Hebrides in the 1970’s and 80’s at the height of the cold war, the nuclear arms race and the military build up of Nato bases around Northern Europe. The USSR was supposed to be the enemy of course, but it was the Americans I remember being really afraid of. They were the ones building military bases all over the country and right on my doorstep.

This morning America feels like a place to be afraid of again. Really afraid.

The thing that horrifies me about the projected election result (it hasn’t been called yet), is not the realisation that the world is full of people who think so very, very differently from me, Brexit proved that, it’s the realisation that there are so many people out there who care so little for anyone they see as “other”.

Fear of the other is a powerful force and it has led us to some of the darkest moments in global history. We’re paying the price for not knowing our history.

If there’s one thing that this reinforces for me, it’s that it proves yet again why it’s so important for everyone, and I mean everyone, to have access to free and open education.   And I really do mean education in the broadest sense. Now more than ever we need education that focuses on history, on politics, on philosophy, on economics, on human geography. We need to understand how we got into this mess and the consequences of our actions if we fuck it all up again.

The first thing my partner said to me this morning was “We’re on the wrong side of history” and it really does feel that way today. My first instinct was to hit up Skype and twitter and reach out to my American friends to tell them how very, very sorry I am about the result but you know what? We’re all in this together. I never thought a US election result would make me cry, but here we are.

It’s kind of ironic that the previous post on this blog is Dream A Little, and boy does that look like a utopian delusion now.  That post ends with the semi-ironic quote “We live in the short term and hope for the best”.  We need to live for more than the short term now, but we sure as hell need hope.

Hope is Power



This time it’s different

I’ll never forget that feeling the morning after Indyref. I just felt sad, so fucking sad that so much positivity and promise had gone to waste. It feels different this time round. Today I’m angry. But the worst thing is, I’m not surprised. There seems to have been a horrible inevitability to the result of the EUref. It’s like watching a carcrash in slow motion.

Martin Weller has already written a really powerful personal response to the result that really chimes with my own feelings. I work in open education, and I believe passionately that as educators we have a moral responsibility to work together to improve opportunities for all, not just for a select few.

The Scottish Open Education Declaration says

“Open education can expand access to education, widen participation, create new opportunities for the next generation of teachers and learners and prepare them to become fully engaged digital citizens. In addition, open education can promote knowledge transfer while at the same time enhancing quality and sustainability, supporting social inclusion, and creating a culture of inter-institutional collaboration and sharing.”

I wrote that. Those aren’t just words. I actually believe all of that. That’s what I work for.

The thing that really struck me about Martin’s post was his reference to Primo Levi’s The Drowned and The Saved and Levi’s anger at those who try to absolve their guilt by claiming that they didn’t see the evil when in actual fact they chose to look away. It struck me because I’m reading The Drowned and The Saved right now and Levi’s anger has stayed with me since I read that passage in Paul Bailey’s masterful introduction.

So yeah, I’m angry. Angry that we’re sleepwalking over the edge. Angry that we’ll let the unthinkable happen because we don’t have the courage and the honesty to open our eyes and think, really think, about the consequences of our actions.

I don’t know how to end this post, because I really don’t know where to go from here. I guess if there’s one tiny glimmer of hope in all this, it’s that I’m so fucking proud of Scotland right now. That doesn’t make me any less angry though.


1.6 Million

Aye, weel, it’s not the result I had hoped for, but I’m still hugely proud of what Scotland has achieved. The turn out and the level of engagement and positivity has been immense. I’m proud to have voted Yes, proud of all those who campaigned so hard, I’m proud of my adopted home city of Glasgow, and of the 1.6 million Scots who voted for independence.

I hope this has been a wake up call for politicians of all stripes and a welcome reminder to the people of Scotland that there is more to political engagement than Westminster and Holyrood party politics. Lets hope that we can maintain this level of positive action and political engagement and let’s make sure we all work towards to a more equitable, fair and democratic society.

If there’s one thing that rankles with me this morning though, it’s that I will continue living in a country that hosts nuclear weapons.  Perhaps it’s time I renewed my membership of CND…

ETA I rejoined CND at the weekend.  You can read their case against Trident here: No to Trident.