Friday, March 31, 2017

Another Year of the Tattoo

31st March 2017

While American politics implode, let's talk about Scottish politics, which is infinitely more enlightening. This week, Scotland has resumed its march towards independence and vowed to hold another referendum. This little corner of the world, this little David with its sling is marching out once more to conquer Goliath. This time the odds are better. It has Europe on its side, and this time the Goliath dragon is not even trying to hide the foam drooling from its mouth. The language of Brexit is mean and nasty, if not delusional. Empires rise and empires fall, but when they go down, it's an ugly spectacle. Theresa May struts around naked, her hand in the hand of the Donald, trying to make out her robes, like his, are of the finest manufacture.

Well, looks like another year of the tattoo is coming for me - where will I put this one? In the run-up to the last referendum I had a Pictish V-Rod and Crescent tattooed on my forearm. Perhaps this time I'll put a Celtic knot on my ankle.

Scotland, land of my birth, you had better go for it this time, before I start looking like a circus act.
But Scotland, above all, stay dignified. I know it's hard not to fling shite back at those who are determined to cover you in it, but hold fast. History is on our side. Barack Obama, America's number one class act, had the good sense to sit back while his opposition self-combusted (I think, on a beach somewhere, he's doing just that. "Donald who?")

I know Scots love to hate Braveheart, but there's a handy image in that film.

Whether you love or despise Mel Gibson's portrayal of your history, take this much from it: don't sink in the face of the force that is being unleashed against you in ProjectFear2.
Scotland, "Hold! Hold!"

Friday, March 24, 2017

Trumped Out

24th March 2017

I am weary of Donald Trump's face, aren't you? Every time you go to any social media forum, there he is, and the thought is never far away from my mind that Scotland spawned this face and the monstrous human being behind it. The McLeod cousins on the remote Isle of Lewis from which his mother hailed are surely weeping and wailing. I'm weeping and wailing and I have no genetic connection to the man. I hope. Mrs Trump, you surely did a bad job with this son of yours.

Mmm. Stornaway? Really?
I hope in the future, psychologists interested in the phenomenon that has come to  be the 45th president of the United States will take a closer look at Mary and Fred Trump, just as they study the environment that gave rise to a Mussolini or a Hitler. How did any individual get so far from basic human values?
I am also weary of the sound of Trump's voice. I am compelled to hit "Mute," not out of principal, but just because I literally can't take listening to him. But then I am stuck watching his hand gestures in silence, and I can't stand that even more.

I am well and trully trumped out.
Hopefully the citizens of this country are, too. Hopefully this federal investigation will uncover the source of the mess and they will realise that mere impeachment is not the answer. Handing the presidency to Hilary Clinton who was robbed of it in the first place, will be the only thing to serve justice here. Not only Trump should pay, but the Republican establishment so anxious to push their agenda and bury their collective head in the sand. You don't get to slither Mike Pence in, just as you don't get to instate Neil Gorsuch. This alone is basic and human and self-evident, and I still have this optimistic if not unrealistic belief that maybe it will carry the day.

As a foreigner on these shores, I am waiting to see if the American constitution is really as rigorous and wise as everyone has always told me it is. If it is, then maybe in good biblical fashion it will have to pluck out the eye that hath offended thee.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Scotland the Brave

17th March 2017

There's so much more to government and the powers-that-be than any of us scurrying around on the surface realise. Who is really operating and pulling the strings is something that is purposely hidden from our sight. Reading about the Deep State in America, and probably something equivalent in the UK, makes me in a cynical moment click "Delete" on all those citizen organisations that send messages asking for help. Donald Trump isn't the real problem in America, though he is certainly an annoying little gadfly. Theresa May likewise in Britain belongs only to the surface noise. The "establishment," that old boys' club fed into by England's system of boarding schools, that British Empire still living under the delusion that such an empire exists, is the iron hand behind the doings of the United Kingdom.

It is therefore with a little trepidation that I do my dance for the newly announced Scottish Independence referendum, Mark 2.  The iron hand has always put down such rebellions of the natives. After the Easter Rising in Ireland, it took the perpetrators out against the wall (even the ones too sick to stand) and shot them. It did the same thing to the Tartan Army in our own city of Paisley in 1820. More recently, during the 2014 Scottish Independence referendum, it spread misinformation so fast and efficiently, that by the time of the vote, it had half the population of Scotland cowering. It has the added weapon of a Scottish media only Scottish in name and largely published out of London. So, the irony is, that even with all other European Union members behind us, even with independent economists everywhere stating that, without the Westminster drain, Scotland could be a wealthy little nation on a par with Norway, we will still have an uphill battle. Fear is a very powerful weapon, and if you have enough Grannies scared for their next week's pension, enough farmers worried for their subsidies, enough people downtrodden over the centuries by the colonialists, and you get a vote like last time: 55% of Scots against Scotland governing itself, the only colony to actually turn down an offer of independence.
I was on the island of St. Kitts recently and was talking to our native tour guide about how the island managed to ease itself out from under British rule. It took many tries, he said. The English government way out there in the Caribbean sea, two thousand miles from its own shores, wanted to hang on. And this is an island with very few resources, one of those West Indies that the British Empire built itself upon, on the sugar plantations and slave trade.  The slave trade was long gone, of course, but still the greedy fingers held on.

So, take Scotland with its vast oil fields (62% of EU reserves) and its wind power (now supplying  26% of its renewable energy to England), its wave and tidal power, its 5 billion pound whisky trade, its tourism and its very small population. The old boys club is not going to let go of that without a fight, for which lowly natives are really not equipped. They play dirty, those Empire boys and the proxies they put up in their pulpits. As was always the case, they have regard for the common people only insofar as they serve the club. Theresa May is nothing more than a barmaid, plying the old boys with (Scottish) whisky.
So, it's a bleak prospect, this quest for freedom, made even more so by the Downing Street dictate the other day that it will not permit Scotland to hold another referendum. And yet here I am again at the altar of the just and the good, with the almost ridiculous belief that Scotland shall persist and overcome.

I think somehow Scotland shall.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Handprints In The Sand

10th March 2017

In the Oscar nominated film "Lion," a little boy accidentally falls asleep on a parked train in the Hindi-speaking part of India and wakes up fourteen hours later in Bengali-speaking Calcutta. No one understands what he is saying, and so he ends up a street urchin with no way home. I have tried to stay off the Trump train, but against my better judgement, I keep climbing back on, only to find myself later in territory where I don't speak the language. It's not just Trump, either. A whole conglomerate put this bozo in the driver's cab, and that's who is doing the steering.

In the end the train will crash, because it was another power altogether that built the engine, just as, I suspect, it built the vehicle for Brexit.  I say that with some reservation, because Brexit can only help the Scottish Independence cause. If Brexit has to be walked back, Scotland will have less of a case for removing itself from all the craziness that has lately become the persistent drone of Britannia Rules the Waves. Or as someone wittily quipped last week, Britannia waves the Rules. Empire, whether Russian or British, is a law unto itself, an ugly beast with a barely veiled grimace.

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. The man's name is Empire, a dragon that our survival depends upon defeating. Though Margaret Thatcher was not a man, and neither is Theresa May, they are still doing the bidding of the drivers of this engine, denying their female heart and throwing on the masses as fuel.
My most hopeful self expects one day to feel the train slowing down and the drivers of the engine jumping off to the sides of the tracks. And then We the people, the plebs, those who stand to lose in every scenario in this man-made train race, will one by one lift the tracks and smooth over the ruts in the soil with our palms. It will be our handprints, not the train, that will be written into history. Into Herstory.

Friday, March 3, 2017

A Little Magic

3rd March 2017

Every author has their little hobby horse, and I am no exception. In fact, some may argue that I like rocking on my ideological pony more than most. But what moves me more than any other is the question of humankind and religion. If you live in the USA, then you are in the majority if you claim allegiance to Christianity and close to the majority if you believe that God created humans in their present form a few thousand years ago. Statistics change a little when you look at Europe, where eighty percent of adults believe Darwin was on to something. In Great Britain, where only six percent of the population goes to church, Darwin's face is even on the money.

The church is trying to stop the slide by recasting itself as a social service, which admittedly has been its best face throughout history. Christians will even suggest that without Christianity we might never have had high art or advanced thinking or developed a social conscience. And some Christians trying to stem the hemorrhage play the all-inclusive card. There is a cloister not too far from where I sit whose adherents sound veritably Buddhist.
But it is all just a finger in the dam. The history of Christianity is just too damning; its central tenet of  Original Sin is just too damaging.
America will catch up. Christianity has already seen a ten percent decline here in the last ten years, roughly equivalent to the dying off of the old folks. And when its young people join the rest of the young people in the developed world, we will all be living in a post-Christian world.
So, the question I am concerned about is this: after religion, what then? I am reading a book right now called "Waking Up" by Sam Harris, an atheist and neuroscientist who is addressing this issue. His stance is Buddhist which requires no leap of faith, and yet he has this annoying scientific parrot on his shoulder that keeps insisting on the sanctity of reason. I appreciate that Harris is trying to explore a spirituality after religion, but what he's offering is rather dry, at least his parrot's version of it is. He pulls on his scientific chops and won't admit that what he's offering relies upon a whole gamut of unproven and unprovable assumptions about reality and value.
The problem with this humanistic approach to spirituality is that it doesn't give us what humans have always hankered after, and what is by nature irrational: magic.

We don't need religion for this. In fact, history suggests that organised religion is actually antithetical to it. But humankind hankers after it nonetheless - how else can you explain a culture's wholesale plunge into the world of Harry Potter? We want the suggestion that this world of the five senses is not all there is. We are in our inception Homo Religiosus, and we will always look up at the stars and see things that aren't there. This is what the spirituality of the future is going to have to take into account  I don't know what the answer is, myself. I know we can't go back to being druids dancing around fires. And I know that at all costs the spectre of dogma must be guarded against. In terms of our evolving spirituality it is much easier to see what it should not be than what it could be. But part of the answer has to be an honest look at where the religious spark came from in the first place.