A guest post by Tina McCafferty
I am wondering how you are? How the days are and where you find yourself? I was very glad that my mum and sister could come to the Andy’s funeral and represent my family and myself. They know how much I love you and how I loved Andy and how at home I always was with you both. It was so great that Kirsten could be there too. As she said after 20 years is too long and she is looking forward to a walk on the beach with you and the dug. The words around Andy’s funeral are consistently ‘sad but beautiful’. He was a beautiful man in every way. I am very glad that I came home when I did a few months ago and got to say goodbye.
On reading the blog I am so deeply touched by the honest and raw kindness of strangers to you both and to the fact that there is such a lack of homophobia. All kids of people from everywhere united around the yes vote and finding themselves touched by the love between you two men. It has reduced me to tears at times. I think you shouldn’t miss that people ‘saw you both’ and sexuality is irrelevant, invisible. Genuinely… It seems a fitting way to honour Andy and your life together as individuals and as a couple.
Maybe it is the loss of Andy and my own grief and sentimentality, my own sense of hope and my belief that as one thing ends another begins, but it does feel to me like Andy leaving us and the opportunity for a free and self-determining Scotland are linked as they both speak of strength, new beginnings, character, hope and the future in a way that honours the past.
I was watching the NZ news tonight and there was a piece on the fact that lots of New Zealanders are living in Scotland at the moment and so have the right to vote. It really pushed me around emotionally. One Kiwi said this was not his country and he was going home to NZ one day and so he didn’t feel it was his place. I applaud his insight. Another Kiwi said he was going to vote no and I cursed him as he is not voting on his heritage, his identify, his right to self-determine, but ours. I was angry at him and I was jealous as although a Scot, a proud, fiery, politically active, interested, passionate and committed Scottish woman I am not allowed to have a say about my country. I was jealous and filled with an envy and anger so deep as I thought ‘how dare you say no to an issue that is not yours!’ and I wept for the fact that I am denied it. If I was there Scottish and proud as is my right my yes vote would have countered his no!
If this was a national election I would not care a jot if New Zealanders voted. However it is not. It is a vote on identity, sovereignty, self-determination, freedom, the future of generations. I feel cheated. Yet I cannot regret living here in NZ either. My sadness in not being allowed a say, is not a want to run from here. It is the sting of injustice.
NZ is a life changing place. I met the love of my life here, became a parent, found myself and I stay because I cannot ask those I love to leave the place they love. I was the immigrant traveler. My darling partner and our weans are in their homeland. I live with the pride and the deep ache of traversing two worlds and grieve for the denial of the right to have a say about who I am and the future of the country and culture I love. The land, the people, the heritage all run in me.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the country in which I have lived so many years and I think being a Scot has allowed me to connect with many New Zealanders but particularly my Maori brothers and sisters in this land. They have taught me, gifted me so much. I recognise this is their land and I recognise it was taken from them by the Crown of England. We share this knowing on both tacit and formal levels, a shared experience that pulses through the blood of ancestors. This longing to have what was ours returned, reclaimed to self rule to shape your own future, to be self determining; tino rangatiratanga – roughly translated as ‘absolute sovereignty’.
I recognise they share it with so many cultures and do so with grace. Like so many of us Scots they do not want to hate, to exclude, they just want the right to have it recognised as their place. They envy Scotland’s position.
I have heard and read and considered the economic arguments, the global arguments, the political arguments. I have been joyed by the hope, the support of other nations. Saddened by the views of those who feel ‘staying together’ is better. Staying together is staying stuck. It is settling for being less than. Those people have the right to their view but I don’t share it. I have no wish to deny their right I just I don’t understand their position, how they can say they are Scottish but … However freedom is a core value of our society and I respect that.
I have been lucky and privileged to have 12 years of formal university education. I have weighed the arguments I vote yes. However I was always going to vote yes as for me this is my heart, my centre of being, my identity. I am not a separatist. I am not anti English. Some of the people I have loved the most in my life have been English – my grandfather, Andy – both shared a passion for Scotland mind ye! I have many friends who are English. I love them. This happening in Scotland, in Alba, is not anti-Sasannach sentiment. This is not about party politics. This is about who we are as a people, a country, a hopefully self-determined nation. I have believed in Scotland my whole life. The first wave of injustice stung so hard as a small child when my parents put ‘British’ on a form and I said we were ‘Scottish’ and they said ‘Aye hen we are but ye are no allowed to put that on a passport form’. I was an independence believer from that day – nearly 40 years ago. I remain a believer in us and our independence now. If I was there tomorrow I would cry with joy as I voted yes.
I do not understand why anyone would vote no. I don’t wish to deny them their right to vote that way but I truly do not understand. The arguments against independence have been run on fear mongering. They are shallow and ill informed. They are illogical, weak and without much substance if scratched a centimetre beyond their surface. We are a nation of thinkers, innovators, educators, entrepreneurs,, we have natural resources, a knowledge economy, world standing it is time to claim it. We will be ok. There will be waves and knocks. We will be ok. We will prosper and thrive.
It is seems small that in the breadth of argument, in my heart this tiny fear sits that if the ‘no’ fear mongering finds its way then I feel that I never again will be able to sing our anthem with joy. It will either be plagued by sadness or a sense of such profound disappointment. It will seem fraudulent. It will seem like folly to sing with passion, ‘o flower of Scotland when will we see your likes again who fought and died for your wee bit hill and glen’ and the words of ultimate hope of generations, ‘ or we can still rise now and be a nation again’.
We can rise now, tomorrow – after centuries and decades, after the passionate voices of the crowd over generations, we can, we should. How can we not say ‘YES’. Oh how I long that my Scottish brothers and sisters do not silence our song. I have observed with pride so many of my family make their way to yes. Come on yersel Scotland. Independence we can dae it. Come on!
I love you Paul, I loved Andy, we all love Scotland. Let’s vote tomorrow for tino rangatiratanga.