I wish I could be there with you, Scotland.
For years I’ve hoped for this day. For the last two, it has been forefront in my mind. Wondering what you’ll do. What you’ll choose to become.
It seems like such a passive verb, a state of being evolved from circumstance, without agency or decision.
But you have both agency and decision this week, Scotland. For years you’ve voted for governments and been overruled. You’ve had your resources used for causes you did not choose, and danger placed near your cities. You’ve been thrown scraps and denied the change you desire. You’ve been promised powers that were not delivered, and those promises whisper through this decision now.
You have an enormous wealth, Scotland. It’s not just the riches of the earth, which you have in abundance. It’s not just your energy or your exports or anything like that. It’s your people. The people of Scotland are your greatest asset. Resilient and strong, innovative and intrepid. Your people are your triumph and your future.
Your people are not homogenous, nor are they any one thing at all. Your people are diverse and intelligent, forward-thinking and outward-looking. You are a small country, but you are a great one, too. It’s not your borders that make you great; it’s your ability to understand where those borders lie in context with a wider world that set you apart.
This debate could have gone very differently. It could have devolved into a discussion of nationalism and stereotype — and indeed those who wish to maintain the status quo often tried to paint it as such. But the reality of the Yes movement is just that: movement. Not xenophobia or fear-mongering. A powerful attitude of positivity, of an ability to effect change. To build a nation that cares for her people, understanding that they are her most precious asset. That fosters intelligence, innovation, creativity, and a desire to see a better future for all her people — not just those who can afford it.
Your people are in possession of a unique opportunity. Without bloodshed or warfare, you can choose to create a new country. You. Choose. This is a power within your hands, a chance to make something better.
It won’t be easy. Nothing worthwhile is. There will be complexities and complications. There will be some false starts, and there will almost inevitably be some broken promises and realities that don’t quite reflect the ideals you have. But you know what? It will be within your power to change. If your government disappoints you, you will be able to replace it. The generation of youth that has risen up and engaged these last two years will be the new leaders of your nation. They bring with them passion and pride in their ability to move, grow, change. They have claimed their country as their own with future generations in mind.
Take a moment and appreciate the beauty of an engaged populace. Even from across an ocean, it is a beacon of hope for me.
I want to see you succeed, Scotland. I think the best way for you to do that is as an independent nation, with your own hands at the tiller of your destiny. Destiny is not something that falls into your lap. Like family and strength and love, it’s something you build with your hands and your toil and your passion. It’s something you keep at even when it’s hard. That’s something you are already good at, Scotland.
You can do this. You are a capable nation filled with people who can take this unique opportunity and be brave, bold. You can leave your nation better than you found it.
This vote will not be the end of this journey. Tomorrow will be only the first step. Whether yes or no, you will continue.
But I hope it’s yes. I hope you will look into the future and greet it with a “we can.” I hope you will own the power you have to change something vast and important. I hope you will greet a new dawn with a sweaty hand grasped in yours, ready to roll up your sleeves and make the idea of a new nation into a reality.
I hope you will show us that it’s possible. For two years, you’ve given me hope. Inspired me and spurred me forward. Your creativity, your passion, and your pragmatism. Your compassion, your engagement, and your drive.
Show us now. Build your destiny.
The tiller is yours.
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