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N is for Nationalism: Am I Alone in My View of Scottish Independence?

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On 18th September 2014, my fellow Scots and I will be asked to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the question:

Should Scotland be an independent country?

I have been losing sleep over the answer to this question because I feel so utterly lost and conflicted as to how to respond. On one hand, I am happy to see democracy at work – this decision should be made by the people of Scotland – on the other hand, I don’t have a clue what the right decision is, or what the implications of my vote are going to be. I feel like someone has handed me a complicated piece of machinery with no instruction manual and asked me to operate it without making a mistake: too much responsibility with not enough information.

Campaigns have already begun to try to win my vote with a variety of groups attempting to convince me to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’. And after much thought, deliberation, straining and researching, I have reached the profound and certain conclusion that my answer is: I don’t know.

‘I don’t know’ because neither side of the argument have yet been forthcoming with the instruction manual for their machine. The policies and objectives put forward to me, and my Scotland-residing brothers and sisters, have been thoroughly vague and smacking of rhetoric. I have had to do so much digging, research and interpreting in order to compile even the most basic list of ‘pros and cons’ surrounding Scotland’s independence and I’m still not even sure that it’s complete and correct. It concerns me that information about the actual factual ramifications of my vote are proving so difficult to come by, because it suggests that each side is depending on my not-knowing the truth to win my vote. I get the very distinct impression that I am expected to vote with my emotions, rather than with the facts, and I don’t like it. This is worrying: Scotland has a long (sometimes glorious, sometimes shameful) tradition of pride and sentimentalism, either for our place in the United Kingdom or for Scotland in opposition to England, and some people are very passionate and patriotic about which camp they reside in. It seems evident to me that I am being asked to ‘pick a side’ based on the feelings I have about Scotland’s history, roused up by the sugar-coated carrots of vague and hyperbolic policies – which at this point, seem like nothing more than emotional manipulations. I have no strong ‘feelings’ about an independent Scotland, but many of my brothers and sisters in Scotland do. I believe this to be a problem. It is wrong for my fellow Scots to be coerced, perhaps unknowingly or subconsciously, to make this decision based on loyalty to the British Crown or Scottish Land, under the guise of taking part in a rational choice. Surely a body of people cannot make a rational and educated decision when being encouraged to puff up with emotion, and at the same time, being furnished with so little factual evidence? We, the people of Scotland, are due to receive a White Paper sometime in November, which will detail the ‘facts’ about becoming independent from the UK, but you and I both know that ‘facts’ are malleable and can be framed to say whatever suits the agenda of their utterer. My distrust is founded on, and compounded by, the reality that the race to win my vote has already begun based on speculation, emotion, and ‘ifs ands buts and maybes’: if there are yet no facts then which of my decision-making faculties are being appealed to? The answer, I fear, is my emotions. Until the facts are made available, it seems that we are being asked to gamble; making our choice via the extent to which we love Scotland and dislike England. This gamble is going to be responsible for the fate of future generations in Scotland and beyond. They will be the ones who have to deal with the repercussions of our sentiments when we are all dead and gone. The more I think about it, the more our sentiments are a hinderance rather than a help: they seem a wildly inappropriate catalyst by which to make this decision. And to be asked to do so makes me very uncomfortable.

I have done my best to compile a list of the dreams and ambitions offered to us by the main proponents of ‘yes’ and ‘no’. What follows are the basic pros and cons- the scaffolding that’s holding the referendum up – but please, bear in mind as you read them, you are reading a wish list, not a list of facts or certainties.

Benefits from Scotland becoming independent from the UK: the ‘Yes’ Vote.

We could make decisions from a parliament that is more relevant to, and invested in, the people it represents.

This is a super idea and I can totally see the merit in governmental decision-making power that is based closer to home, but we are not voting for the idea alone, we will also have to vote for the people who will promise to put the idea into action on behalf of the people. What concerns me about this point is that it may turn out that Westminster understands Scotland just fine…and that it is the indivuals we elect – rather than specifically the English parliament – who make a mess of cranking the machine and signing the dotted lines. In which case, aren’t we just as likely to have idiotic or misguided decisions make by elected individuals in a Scottish parliament?

We would have control of our oil and gas resources.

*Sigh* Unless some unbiased and independent person in-the-know is going to publish well-researched statistical findings about this matter, we the public are in the dark and can only trust what we are told. And what we have been told by the media so far is exactly this:

He said, she said, he’s lying, they are lying, you can’t do this, we can do this, they are spending all your money on lawyers, they are destroying data, your country is in debt, we are richer than you. Blah blah blah. It really is just noise. What is the truth? Will we benefit from keeping our oil to ourselves or not? Show me the research that says so. Unless we are furnished with a report, signed, sealed and delivered by an independent body, perhaps comprised of economists, scientists, ecologists and engineers et. al., we are in no position to make a judgement and should not be voting with this in mind at all.

We would ban nuclear weapons from Scotland.

This is the one policy that would swing my vote for independence if it were true. I really hope it is true. We simply don’t know right now. I want to see a piece of paper signed by all parties concerned, detailing that nuclear weapons will be removed from Scotland on such-and-such a (soon) date. After the fact, I do not want to come to learn of any non-public small print that says, “Due to the complexities of ‘legal separation’ of military resources, it’s going to take 20 years to get the nukes gone.”

Have a look at the Yes Scotland q&a page for more information on these points.

Benefits from Scotland remaining in the UK: the ‘No’ Vote.

We would keep the £GBP.

There are no available statistics to guarantee if the £GBP or some new Scottish currency would be weaker or stronger. So we’re back to gambling again.

We would remain more powerful as part of the UK’s Armed Forces.

This may be intuitively true since Scotland is smaller when separate from the UK, but again, there could be other benefits to leaving the UK’s Armed Forces, like not getting dragged into wars we don’t agree with. It could also be the case that more military jobs would be created if all the necessary departments for a Scottish Armed Force were located in Scotland, again, without the facts, there could be convincing rhetorical suggestions either way.

Mortgage interest rates would be decided by the UK.

So?…’Being decided by the UK’ does not automatically mean cheaper or better. For this to be convincing, Westminster needs to make a pledge or an offer, they need to propose some actual and realistic competitive rates and post them online so that we, the public, can make an informed decision.

It would be ‘bad for jobs’ if Scotland left the UK.

‘Bad for jobs’ is a direct quote which seems to be anchored in no facts whatsoever. How do we know it would be bad for jobs? Where is the research that says so?

Scotland has full powers when it comes to health and education and spends £1200 per head more than the rest of the UK.

What? Surely this is an argument in favour of Scotland having more of its own power?

We get ‘the best of both worlds’.

I can see, intuitively, that this could be the case. My stepdad is English, as are many of my friends, and I also have Scottish friends who reside in England. To make ourselves a foreign country to England at this point seems like a tangled and complicated web that may not lead to us being better off, but again, we’re talking feelings here, not facts.

Scotland sells more to the rest of the UK than it sells to the rest of the world combined.

What is this statement? Is it a threat? Is it supposed to incite a sense of togetherness? We cannot deduce from it how Scotland’s trade with England would be affected by independence. The laws and regulations concerning trade should be clearly set out before we vote, not guessed-at until after, or else…what are we voting for?

You can read the lealet for yourself, I pulled this information straight from the Better Together Campaign (the ‘no’ campaign).

Besides the distinct lack of facts from both sides of the argument, I have other questions and meta-concerns not addressed by either side. The first of which is this: Since Scotland is so multi-cultural and diverse, does the emotional attachment to an ‘independent Scotland’ really have meaning that the ‘yes’ proponents would have us believe it does?

My next concern is that our world is becoming a global community; doesn’t it seem counter-intuitive to move in the opposite direction, becoming more separate and isolated as a nation? Becoming independent not only separates us from the other residents of the island that we share, but it also tells the rest of the world, who will surely be watching, that we wish to be separate too.

My final concern is that the posing of the question: ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’ will serve to reignite old rivalries, a ‘them or us’ mentality, amongst some people. This is exactly the opposite of what Scotland needs right now, since we all must live side-by-side with people from a variety of backgrounds and walks of life. From religion, to sport, to east vs. west, there are elements of our nation that are unhealthily divided. Regardless of their intentions, I find it very difficult to support a group of people who nurture and foster our nation’s frequent – and often damaging – inclination towards creating opposition, who have little more than fantasy and rhetoric as the backbone of their argument.

In my ideal world, I would vote for greater devolution of power to Scottish government, and I would support the First Minister’s use of Scottish voters’ clout to request more power and independence in areas that are specific to Scotland’s social & cultural standing; and ecology and resource profile. But of course, this option is not on the table because the leaders of our nation have shown themselves to be stuck in the hyperbole of ‘them or us’, ‘yes or no’, ‘Scottish or British’. And this could not be father away from what being Scottish and British means to me.

I would vote for transparency. If the ‘yes’ campaign came out with an utterly transparent fact sheet, stating what an independent Scotland could and could not do, with facts and figures and sans rhetoric, I would vote for them.

I would vote for respect and understanding. If Westminster were to propose a fair and open negotiation of our autonomy as a Scottish nation, I would vote for them, simply because to me, getting rid of the illusion of opposition would be the healthiest thing that we could do as both a Scottish and British nation, moving forward.

I dislike wearing my cynical hat, I don’t think it suits me, but for now, I must. I really think that if ‘yes’ or ‘no’ are put forward as our only options, and we believe that ‘yes’ or ‘no’ are our only options, then that in itself serves to show that we are not ready to effect such drastic change.

I’d like you to weigh in on this. Are you a Scottish person willing to share which way you’re going to vote and why? Are you a non-Scottish person whose nation has failed/succeeded at becoming independent? Do you think my point of view is mistaken?

Have a read of the Guardian’s Essential Guide to Scottish Independence. What do you think?

Still, I am in the mindset that I do not know which way to vote. Should I choose not to vote? Those who do are labelled ‘apathetic’ and are often blamed when the outcome of a vote is unwanted. Should I vote by destroying my ballot paper? This is the official way to refuse to decide, but what happens to the destroyed ballot papers? Nothing…they just get discounted, the act is not strong enough to indicate a protestation.

If, like me, you believe we have been thrust into a false dichotomy, and that neither ‘yes’ nor ‘no’ is the way forward, then write to your MP. To vote for a false dilemma gives it validation. To write to your MP stating that you are unhappy with being presented with so hyperbolic a choice is a vote in itself. England is not the enemy, and whether Scotland will or will not be better off outside of the UK is a mystery, but the cogs that turn to move both Scotland and England forward, I believe, are more intricately wrought than a heavy-handed and ill-informed ‘yes’ or ‘no’ can break or repair.

Stanley Odd Frontman Solareye/Dave Hook has done the conundrum justice through the medium of rap.

Next Time… N is for ‘News’ : Good news from around the world, not being reported in the mainstream media.

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www.angellauren.com

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J is for ‘Jobs’. (How to be happy at work and love your job.)

happy work job funny

Having a job that makes you happy is one of the most important aspects of leading a balanced life. I often say to my clients, ‘Do what you love or at least, love what you do,’ and that is going to be the topic of this post.

Every day of my life, I give thanks that I am able to work for myself in a career that supports my soul’s development, and that also allows me to assist other people with theirs. My journey towards self-employment as a spiritual advisor was a long but joyous one, and along the way, I worked at a variety of day-jobs to keep the bills paid and to fund my dream of working for myself. During that time, I worked as a financial advisor, customer service consultant, make-up artist and waitress, and each of these jobs taught me that my happiness at work was completely within my control, and wasn’t dependent on the job I was doing, as such. I also came to realize that, of course, it is important that there are ‘normal’ people out there who are doing spiritual work. But it may be more important that there are spiritual, positive and happy people out there doing ‘normal’ work; bringing their love, light and integrity to a variety of different jobs. It is those people, I believe, who incite positive social change and who are the spiritual foundations of our societies.

So to all of you who are teachers, carers, nurses, social workers, waiters, bar staff, customer service advisors, civil servants, chefs, cleaners, lorry drivers, politicians, soldiers, emergency service officers, security workers, taxi drivers and in any other profession that keeps our world ticking over, please know that your happiness at work is important – that you take your spirituality with you into work every day makes a significant difference to all of us. Thank you for doing what you do, and doing it with a smile on your face!

Do you have a top tip for being happy and fulfilled at work? Did you ever start a job and were pleasantly surprised by how happy it made you? Comment below and tell us how you stay happy in the workplace. Here are my top 5 tips on how to be happy at work, that I hope all of you will benefit from, whether you serve our food, patrol our streets, or operate on our brains!

Tip No. 1: If you can’t do what you love, at least love what you do.

Ok, so you didn’t manage to achieve your childhood dream of being the first astronaut to visit the Andromeda galaxy, but does that mean that you will never be happy in another career? What if I told you that your happiness at work is not to do with what job you do, but is determined by your decision, every day, to be positive and to give each task your best shot. If you make the decision to think of your job in a loving and appreciative way, your good feelings will rub off on your colleagues, making your place of work a happier place to be for everyone. You will enjoy your job more, simply when you choose to enjoy your job. Try this experiment:

Tomorrow, choose to go into work and do your absolute best, with the greatest care and effort that you can. Let me know in a comment how your day went, when you made the deliberate decision that your workplace is a happy place.

Did you notice a difference? So until NASA call to invite you to begin training for Andromeda, choose to make the best of what you have! And if something at work is really so bad that you really, really can’t be positive about it…then you need to give yourself permission to leave. Seriously, why would you choose that level of unhappiness for yourself?

Tip No. 2: Practice clear and open communication.

If you have something to say to your boss or a colleague, take the time to think it through and then just say it! Swallowing down your worries, concerns and criticisms is not healthy for you, nor is a lack of communication healthy for your workplace. Being unable or unwilling to express yourself can lead to feelings of resentment and isolation at work and that is definitely not conducive to your happiness! The fear of speaking up is often worse than the experience itself, and if you can be tactful about your communications then you will find that most bosses and colleagues are just people too and not the judgmental, angry monsters that our non-confrontational minds make them out to be. When you are afraid to communicate at work, it is really your thought about the outcome that you are afraid of. To work through this, deliberately visualize your boss or colleague responding in a loving and receptive way before you begin a communication with them- this positive expectation will open up the channels of communication between you both.

Tip No. 3: Do one thing every day that is beyond the call of duty.

It feels good to be deliberately helpful at work. If you show up to work willing to do a little extra, whether it’s helping a new-start, being flexible with shifts or meeting a tough deadline, you will give off a vibration that you are approachable, helpful and kind…those are good qualities to have. And when pay-rise or promotion time comes around, your record of work will be glowing. When you are helpful, you inspire your colleagues to follow suit. Kindness and generosity are contagious – try it and see!

Tip No. 4: Set realistic boundaries.

You may think that in order to be respected by your boss and others, you need to take on every bit of extra work that’s going. But this is not so. It is better to do 2 tasks excellently well than 5 tasks poorly. Be honest about what you can manage well and don’t be afraid to say no to extra work if it is too much: your boss and colleagues will respect your honesty and you won’t feeling like crying because of stress and pressure. This is very important in sustaining a healthy work/life balance.

Tip No. 5: Work with integrity.

Always work with integrity. If your workplace doesn’t treat you right, despite attempts to resolve issues, you should think about whether that really is the right place for you to work. Your health and happiness are more important than your job and you shouldn’t have to work someplace that doesn’t support your wellbeing. Try to avoid gossip, negativity, bullying and bitching – these also do not support your wellness at work. If your colleagues really don’t respect the workplace or each other and it’s really bringing you down, you may want to consider if that place of work is really what’s best for you. No job is worth the integrity of your soul. You may think, ‘I’d love to leave but there are no other jobs.’ And my only reply to that is ‘what you believe is what you receive’. If you affirm that there are no jobs then you make it much for difficult for the Universe to bring you meaningful work. Try, instead, to affirm what you do want:

I have a wonderful job that I am happy to get up for every day. My work pays well and supports my wellbeing.

Why shouldn’t you have this? A happy and healthy workplace is totally achievable for you, if you believe it is.

What do you do for a living? Do you think that it’s important to practice positivity and spirituality at work? Please leave me a comment- I’d love to hear all about how you make the most of your working day.

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Thank you to all of you who shared your joy with me in last week’s post – J is for ‘Joy’. I really enjoyed reading about the things that make you joyful. I am delighted to announce that the winner of a free reading with me is: Mia (Lights of Clarity)

I look forward to connecting with you Mia, and sharing the guidance of Spirit with you.

Until Next Time: Practice deliberate happiness at work and record any changes in how you feel about your job, and how your workmates treat you.

Next Time: K is for ‘Kindness’: (The power of deliberate acts of kindness.)

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…and get your daily love and happiness tweets @angellassie.