An Opportunity To Learn From Myanmar
This is an Internet op-ed column from a Scottish-American. I studied at the University of Edinburgh at New College 45-years ago. I am very interested in the independence movement and recently returned to Scotland in the spring of 2013 for research and study of the devolution movement.
I love the land and the people of Scotland and want happiness for you. I am a college professor who teaches history and know a great deal about Scottish and American history. Nevertheless, my forte is American history. What I know about Scottish history would pale in comparison with any Scot.
With that confession, bear with me as I describe the parallels between Scotland and America's quest for independence. Starting nearly two millennia ago, Scotland was walled off from England by the Antonine and Hadrian's Wall in the first half of the second century AD. The Romans never conquered Caledonia.
After the fall of Rome, the British invaded several times and were defeated several times by the Scots. The 700th anniversary of Robert the Bruce's victory over Edward II at Bannockburn will occur on 24 June 2014. It was the most recent and important ending of English rule based on the battlefield.
Other invasions off the battlefield have occurred. The Acts of Union in 1707, I have never understood. It seems to me that English royalty pushed Scottish royalty to join the Union between their countries. For whatever reason, the Scots went along with the Union. In that process, they lost a great deal of freedom including their Scottish parliament. The loss of a parliament lasted for 3-centuries resulting in Scotland being an unequal partner with England.
Prior to 1776, America also wanted to govern themselves and not be governed by London. That parallels precisely with Scottish history. During the discussion prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, not everyone in America thought that they could stand on their own in the world. John Dickinson, whose family was from Scotland, expressed that America was not ripe yet for independence.
However, John Witherspoon, who was born not far from Edinburgh, was outraged. He interrupted Dickinson with this terse statement, "Not ripe, Sir! In my judgment, we are not only ripe but rotting. Almost every colony has dropped from its parent stem and your own province needs no more sunshine to mature it."
During the American Revolution, many people like Dickinson had their version of the cringe...the American cringe, which was centuries before the Scottish cringe. Hence the Better Together slogan, which tries to tell Scots that with England running the show, Scotland would be better together
Nonetheless, the cringe issue also applies to England. A Canadian postage stamp in 1898 contained this statement, "We hold a vaster empire than has been."
In 1922, the British Empire consisted of 458 million people and a quarter of the landmass of the world.
Today, that vast empire has dwindled down to about a dozen small islands scattered around the world, Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and England.
If I were English, I see Scotland and Northern Ireland leaving in the very near future. On 18 September 2014, Scotland will vote for independence leaving the Emerald Isle to work out the details of complete independence from England. Within this decade, the British Empire will be reduced to about a dozen small islands, Wales, and England. That would make me certainly cringe if I were English.
Therefore, as an outsider who is Scottish, I want the best for my sisters and brothers living in Scotland. We, in America, have benefitted from many Scottish immigrants. Even our president, Barrack Obama, has Scottish blood running in his veins. I do not want any Scot to cringe at independence. Half of the 28-nations of the EU are smaller in population and landmass than Scotland. Believe in yourselves. America, Canada, Australia, and many other places have benefited from Scottish immigrants.
I promise you that I will return to celebrate your independence. I am writing this while in Myanmar (Burma) researching those working for independence like Aung San Suu Kyi and Min Ko Naing. She will be elected president of Myanmar in 2015. I will return to Myanmar to celebrate her election. Interestingly, I am writing this op-ed essay in Yangon (Rangoon) on 4 January, which is their Independence Day. I have been invited by Min Ko Naing and a large group of the 88 Generation Students Group to an Independence Day luncheon. They meet to remember the past and plan for the future. It was 65-years ago when General Aung San told the British to leave.
You have the opportunity to declare your independence from the UK this year. I believe you will vote for independence. Tell England the same thing that America, Myanmar/Burma, and all the other colonies have told them over the centuries.
Remember what was said 700 years ago. "I am William Wallace! The rest of you will be spared. Go back to England, and tell them there, that Scotland's daughters and her sons are yours no more! Tell them Scotland is free!"
Visit the Burma Independence page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Scottish Independence page to read more about this topic.