Category Archives: Independence

Yes! Yes! Yes!

This post might be even less well edited than usual. I’ve been away, and have got to go away again tomorrow, so here’s a quick fire view of my thoughts. In which I will still be speaking as though Independence is a real thing.

I became quite downcast during the last week. As a fervent supporter of the Yes campaign for Scottish Independence, for which  the vote will be happening on Thursday, it came as a shock to witness just how much the establishment media in the UK were against the idea of little Scotland breaking up the last remnants of the British Empire. My opinion of one famous and lauded example of this media, the BBC, has been going downhill for quite a while. But I was never-the-less  horrified to witness how they have managed to fiddle with some basic journalistic concepts with which they are supposedly famous, such as objectivity and unbiased coverage. But despite that frightening revelation, which could tip your whole world upon it’s flattened edge, and for which I will be giving you no evidence right now, I have ended the week feeling uplifted and optimistic. Though not particularly in regard to the outcome of the vote which is still, it seems, in the balance.

No, the reason I am feeling upbeat is because I have come to realise the  privilege it is to be part of this grassroots democratic movement for change. One that could have a big effect, not just upon Scotland, but upon the whole of the present United Kingdom over the years to come. We have been having our own little revolution. I thought that revolutions  only happened (so it has always seemed) in places where death, real poverty and hand to mouth survival were the order of the day for the majority of the population. Places where  there was “nothing to lose but our chains”.

The Scottish revolution is not of that magnitude, although there is a lot of genuine concern for the way in which, as part of the UK, we seem to be heading down a path of a growing rich and poor divide, of petty hatred, prejudice and inequality.  A path from which  some of the British welfare services that are almost as famous as  the Beeb ( like our free at point of use National Health Service) are being gradually torn. A path upon which our governments, of whatever stance, seem to be increasingly inclined to worship at the steps of financial institutions. Institutions who have been getting a free hand to fritter away everyone’s money but their own. Personally, I’m glad that our revolution is happening at this point of “genuine concern” rather than at the crossroads of desolation.

This democratic, peaceful revolution has been very much a do-it-yourself affair. Only one national newspaper  in the UK (with only a small Scottish readership) has come out in support of Independence. The Sunday Herald is that brave spirit, and in yesterday’s edition Iain Macwhirter commented that “this may be the first election in which the mainstream media ceased to be the mainstream”. There-in lies my reasons for optimism. Miraculously, despite the fact that this mainstream media has been pretty much “in the pocket” of our Westminster governments No campaign, we still have a shout of making the change we are looking to achieve. People power is surfing the net, chatting to it’s neighbours and is, generally, blissfully ignoring the finger of Fear being pointed at every pro-independence notion. We are the Media, and it is beautiful to behold.

I can’t give this campaign any kind of justice in such a few words, and I must add that there are people of principle on both sides of the Scottish Referendum argument. No doubt the issues that Scotland and the UK face are relatively minor in comparison to  other world wide examples that some of our own Small Word bloggers have experienced. But right now I’m  feeling  very much appreciative that I live in a democracy. And  so very thankful that new life is being breathed into that same democracy. And also into my own faith in the possibility of progressive change  among communities of people who choose to put their collective minds to the task.

-David Fee


Another sunday-ish blog post


“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” ~ Nelson Mandela

I know, I know. A South African opening a blog post with a quote from Nelson Mandela. I’m a clichéd mess. Sue me. (Please don’t sue me.) But it’s a nice quote. It’s nice to be optimistic about man’s inherent good-ness, sometimes. Personally, I’ve seen a lot more evidence supporting a quote like “human beings are a disease” (Matrix. The first one. Remember how good that film was? Life Changing. But what the hell was up with those sequels?) but it’s nice to do the whole glass half full thing sometimes, right?

Back to that original quote and, more pertinently, how it relates to the question of independence. M-dog postulates that discrimination is a learned behaviour. And I don’t know about you, but I haven’t come across many schools offering “People of Spanish origin are lazy” 101 as an elective. So Mandela, smart dude that he was, was probably hinting at some other form of learning. The kind of learning that teaches us what your husband/wife is supposed to look like. Or what sports little boys or little girls are allowed to play. Or who deserves your respect and who doesn’t. It’s subtle, it’s (largely) unspoken and it’s so entrenched as to feel natural. Like you came up with it yourself.

And that’s an interesting thought, isn’t it? Because I think all of us, if we’re honest with ourselves, carry a spot ‘o blind seething hatred towards a people group or two. Some of us can even defend that hatred for a while. (Have you SEEN how they drive?) But, when we get right down to it, we have to get that racism, sexism, homophobiaism and bloggerism (the worst and most hateful of all the isms) are all… well, a bunch of crap, right? Below the skin, people are all pretty much just people. But prejudice continues indiscriminately discriminating across the globe, irrespective of age, education or gender.

“Hey. Neale. Thanks for preaching to us bro,” I hear you saying.

“ We really appreciate it. Really,” I can imagine you adding.

“But… what does ANY of this have to do with independence.”

Independence, on an individual level, starts with YOU. (Yes, I know it ACTUALLY starts with the letter I. Hilarious. Let’s keep going, ok?)

What do you want? Who do you want to spend time with? Where do you want to live? What is important to you? The answers to these questions, and the decisions that follow those answers, are the foundation on which independence is built. (You know, “starts with I” would have worked a lot better in that earlier sentence. ‘cos it actually does start with I, but also, like, the personal pronoun. But I’m too lazy to change it now. Just re-read it and imagine it the way it should be. Come to think of it, maybe you should do that with the rest of this piece…)

But, how many of these decisions are actually our own? I mean, if we can be taught to hate multiple people groups for arbitrary reasons like skin colour or which gender they love, how many other externally-made decisions are we passing off as our own? That celebrity you admire or that guy from high school with the cool jacket or your friends and family –  could they be the real decision makers in your life? And the real kicker, I think, is IF these are the people making your decisions, who is making decisions for them?

Maybe none of this matters. Who really cares whether you’re styling your hair a certain way because a girl you liked reacted positively to it once. But it does make me wonder about independency as a concept. It’s a lie guys. A false construct. We have little to no control over what happens to us and, what control we do have, is handed over to other people, at least to some degree. Whilst it feels good and just to fight for our right to live how, where and why we want, independency, when we peal back its ogre-like layers, is just another form of control.



I spent Friday at an art fair, a part of the profit of which went toward a charity for children with cancer at Omid Hospital. My friend’s mother was selling some of her paintings to help the charity. So, I sat there thinking of you, our blog, and independency as I watched individual, different, and independent beliefs, looks, tastes, and art come together in one event, women with complete covers and ‘Hijabs’ and others, like me, just about managing to keep the scarf on. Nobody interfered with the individuality of others; therefore, they came together as a group with ‘respect’ and harmony.
I have to explain that this is kind of a big deal here. The fact that a big group of youngsters can come together like this without many restrictions, that we had live music, and there was nobody to check peoples way of dress was fabulous! So I was overjoyed with the mixture of independency and interdependency in one place.
I can tell you from personal experience that when independency is overthrown for ‘the good of an interdependent group’, you might not like or agree with the shape that group takes or the regulations it sets. And this group may not necessarily grow into a democratic ‘interdependency’. The ideal is that democracy and interdependency come side by side, but in the current state of things we are far from any ideals.
So, to comment on whether we should blow up independency, I have to say I don’t agree. All things are best in moderation. I don’t doubt for a moment that if you were told that some features of your independency, which you enjoy today, were illegal as of tomorrow, you would find many uses for it and many reasons why it’s necessary. I still think it’s a context-based issue. As individuals, we need a combination of dependence and independence in our lives. We need those solitary and independent moments, the right to make decisions independently, and to make mistakes by ourselves, as much as we need communication, connections, and relationships and the inevitable dependence that comes with them. If we can use our independent rights, and consider others and respect their independency, we can maybe become closer and more interdependent.
I think I’ve overused the word independency; I was getting really confused by the end of the writing. 😀

Blow it up


There is a disadvantage of going first after David! I have no other entry to base my comments upon and whatever I say, it will have no reference of anyone else, making me feel too independent!! Boooh!

But that’s ok, it’s the story of my life really. I’m the oldest of three, and following the cheesy family tone from David, I thought it was right to share this picture, which is one the few we have as a family when my brothers and I were kids.

As the oldest, I had no other reference than my parents, so I always saw, and still see, my brothers with a father-like love. My brothers and I had a fantastic relationship during our childhood and teenage years. We were Inseparable like the Ninja Mutant Turtles! Invincible like the Power Rangers! My memories of those years are always painted with their smiles and the amazing fun we had together.

Then, we grew up! First, my middle brother and I moved to the UK, three years later the youngest joined us. Although, he became a quiet young adult, our relationship was strong and the three youngsters became stronger since we didn’t have mum or dad to look after us. We were independent and still, dependent.

But right then! Just when you think things are going great and independence is not an issue because interdependence was working, or seemed to be working fine, the borders started growing and settling!

And like with any border, the idea of ‘stay behind the line’ hurts when you really want to be part of that common land or piece of life that you used to share but you can’t anymore.

Of course, I still love my brothers but let’s say that they have voted ‘yes’ to their independence and, somehow, that means less of us in every sense: time, moments, ideas, projects, plans… The bridges are weak and it seems that they are ok with it. You may think, like they do, I’m exaggerating and this is how life always is but I disagree.

I think we should indeed put the little rascal in a box full of dynamite, put it in a spaceship, blow it up and let it disappear in the eternity of the universe. The more I think about it, the less independent I want to be! 😉

Tagged , ,

Discovering The Borders

I’ve just read back through all the posts from this last week, and I’ve got a big smile on my face. And it’s not just because of Neale’s “Dad Quote”. I don’t know what I was expecting when we rolled this engine out, but whatever it was that I wasn’t expecting has been more than lived up to by everybody during these first two weeks. Independently and together.

 I shouldn’t be smiling really though. Because it turns out that the word I chose as topic of choice for this month is in fact a fallacy. Or a “something” that exists until we have managed to bridge the gap. I now see that Australia (a land which I’ve always associated with the very idea of independence) is far more connected, more dependent, than I realised. That independence is sometimes only one step removed from war-like separatism. And that the relatively wealthy among us, with the freedom to live alone and independent, can be jealous of the more “primitive” sense of community found in less wealthy cultures.

Perhaps we should simply take the word Independence, stick it in an empty, runaway rCartoon Dynamite Stick of red dynamite cartoonailway carriage, attach  a six pack of cartoon dynamite, and ceremoniously press the trigger as it leaves the city borders. Someone can say a little speech of   remembrance. Thank you, Independence, for giving us something to aspire to in our adolescent years, when we were desperate to be “Our Own Person”. Longing to “Make Our Own Way In The World”. You served your purpose, we are grateful. Goodbye.


We could do that. But I’m nothing if not persistent, and I think there’s a bit of life in the little rascal yet.

Because the path to growth and maturity, as individuals and communities, is not, I’m sure you will agree, a straight forward one leading inevitably onwards and upwards. It is a very meandering path. Often losing itself. Often heading into unpassable terrain. Often rained upon. Or in need of rain. Often having to retrace it’s steps.

I’ve been married to Ineke for nearly 28 years, and like any long term relationship, we’ve had our share of ups and downs. At times it’s been a battle for survival. And as well as an underlying love and a desire to work things out, for ourselves, for our The Early Dayschildren, we have needed to realise that, for all it’s beautiful symbolism, the marital imagery of two becoming one, is just that. Imagery. Symbolism. The reality has been that to maintain a partnership we have had to discover our borders.To find out where each of us begins and the other ends. In practical terms this means taking measures of separation. Our own funds (this is mine, not yours), our own spaces, our own times, our own outside relationships, our own hobbies. It would be nice to think that we could be mature enough to happily merge our lives and interests. But we are not. It’s not just about maturity though. I think personal independence is a vital part of our cohabitation. Of our union. It is a vital tool in helping disparate individuals to live together.

As we lie together, skin against skin, a microscope reveals our bodies tophoto-36 be made up, not of a gloopy conglomerate of uniform fleshy substance, but a highly complex, highly defined, highly connected community of cells working together as one to make up a quite wonderful whole person like being. Without the definition, without the lines of separation, I, this magnificent beast, could not slouch before you today typing, deleting, typing frantically, deleting, retyping, “Coffee, GIVE ME COFFEE!”, staring into space, and typ….well, I think you know what I’m saying. It’s just not possible for a pile of gloop to do this stuff. And that’s almost all I have to say on the matter today.

Here, on the eastern side of the Atlantic Ocean, our United Kingdom appears to be  on the verge (10 days to go and the momentum is with the Yes vote) of becoming a little less united. As I said previously, I see this as a progressive, not a regressive step, even though I do believe in One World, One Humanity. Because as a species, metaphorically, we can surely only have reached the first day or two of foetus development. If a united planet (which  seems like a fairy tale if we’re honest) is ever to be born, I suspect we will need to continue  this  long, hard task of discovering our borders. To every body’s satisfaction.

The Meaning Of Independency


First of all I have to say I enjoyed reading all your views. I agree with Abner’s argument. Independency may not necessarily be positive. But I guess it really depends on the context we are arguing about; the place and maybe even the time. The meaning of and views toward independency seem to have changed over time. Over the course of history people have separated themselves into groups, tribes, empires, and countries. They have moved toward separatism and the power of a select few. And those select few have used their power to dictate, kill, and increase their own power, and separatism has led to wars, domination, and suppression of nations. It has only been in the current century that world views and laws have started to change and to move more rapidly toward empowering the masses, communication, ‘Dialogue Among Civilizations’, interdependency, and peace. At some point, the world may even stop building independent states. I think the ideal would be to eliminate borders, authority, and independent states entirely and become co-dependent. I don’t know how or if that can ever come about, but it most definitely cannot be gained today. So we must live in our separate and independent groups for now and at best define this independency in the most positive way possible. So I think the most important questions we are all faced with now are: what does independency mean? Does it mean we are free to do as we please within our borders? Does it mean we cannot interfere in the affairs of other independent states? Do we have to stand by and watch whatever happens within the limits of an independent state; to watch terrorist groups like Da’ish gain power and tyrants like Bashar-al Assad terrorize and kill? Was it acceptable for the US to interfere in Bosnia and stop the genocide of Muslims? Was it acceptable for the US and Britain to orchestrate a coup to overthrow Mosaddegh? Where is the limit to this independency? Under what circumstances and which regulations are we allowed to disregard this independency and the borders that guard it and take action against that which occurs under the shadow of its name?

Independence – Not An Aussie Agenda.

Part of David’s original context for the idea about “Independence” was the current debate and vote in Scotland about Scotland returning to being an independent nation rather than one part of the United Kingdom.

So my first thoughts about the concept of Independence in an Australian context were in the national identity and values framework.

We certainly don’t talk about ‘independence’ much, even when we were debating our own constitutional change from being under the English monarchy to being a Republic.

Most people who argued for becoming a Republic ( I was one of them.) did not have much to say about needing to be independent of England, we simply already are independent.

Our actual independence is no surprise:

We live on the opposite side of the planet from where the Queen of England (Who is still also the Queen of Australia, which is frankly just absurd!) sits on her throne – a figurehead who does nothing much.

We live in a vastly different landscape.

We live connected to one end of Asieuro and England lives connected to the other end of Eurasia.

The distance between England and Australia means the only connections come from distant elements of our shared history.

In political and economic and social terms Australia has been well and truly making its own way in the world for a long time.

This is a drawing of the Australian Coat of Arms as it was accepted in 1912.

This is a drawing of the Australian Coat of Arms as it was accepted in 1912.  On the shield you see emblems from each of the six states that make up the Federation.

Federation from separated English colonies to one nation with the colonies turning into “states” within the nation occurred in 1901. At that time most Australians were still quite onboard with the idea of being loyal to England and the King. In the next fifty years this changed enormously and that change in attitude has continued, matching the changes in economic reality and social reality within the nation over that century.


Australia’s economy was protectionist and tariff bound until the 1980’s and 90’s when, under centerist “left wing” governments of Prime Minister Hawk and Prime Minister Keating a radical restructure of our economy and industrial infrastructure was successfully pursued, import tariffs reduced and eventually abolished in most areas and lots of de-regulation in many sectors to invite sane creativity and flexibility. Hawk and Keating were globalists before that idea was in common currency. 🙂 They recognised that Australia’s economy is connected to the rest of the planet and that how things run here should accept that fact rather than try to hide from it. Definitely not a set of decisions pursing some theory of independence from other nations, quite the opposite.

Until the middle of the last century Australia, socially, was a ‘white anglo’ bastion, the vast majority of citizens were from the UK, or their family heritage started in the UK. Up until the 1950’s we had a deliberate policy of only inviting migration from the UK or from other pale skinned European populations and we definitely tried to keep all and any Asians out of the country. (We ignorantly, arrogantly and racistly used to call Asians “The Yellow Peril”.)

Things started to improve after the Second World War, many Meditteranean Europeans, particularly Italian and Greek war refugees, started to migrate to Australia and Australians discovered pretty fast that these darker skinned folk with the strange foods and different languages were actually just as honest and hard working and easygoing and FUN as we Aussies like to think we are, so we accepted them as part of us. Once that idea had hold, that people different from us were still great people and actually could make ‘us’ an even better ‘us’, then we were ready to start accepting waves of other migration from other countries.

From the 1970’s to the 1990’s we accepted (Mostly.) waves of refugees (Boat people.) from successively, Vietnam, Cambodia, Vietnam again and Southern China.

Anybody who looks on a globe of our planet can see that Australia is IN ASIA and the life of our country is starting to reflect that reality much more. When I was a small boy most Australian kitchens had very English pantries, fifty years later most Australian pantries unselfconsciously reflect our acceptance and enjoyment of the foodstuffs and spices and products used by all those waves of migrants – even our pantries are now ‘inter-dependent’.

Australia is still not a Republic, but that will happen at some point, simply because our constitution (Which I have actually read.) is dramatically (And embarrassingly) out of sync with how the nation actually runs and that fact will catch up with us at some point.

In my lifetime Australia has increasingly recognised that we are closely connected to that part of the world we actually live in and that we should welcome and develop that connection. Most of us are pretty happy with this path.

One other, and thoroughly frivolous, area that Australians tend to reveal a generally dismissive attitude to “independence” is in sport.


We love our sports and we tend to punch above our weight on the international sporting stage, we do remarkably well for a nation of 22 million people. One of the particularities of our sporting excellence is that we are much better at producing champion TEAMS than individual champions. For some reason Aussies are particularly good at working in teams, at least on the sporting field, while individual champions come and go many of our teams maintain international champion potential decade after decade. (Hockey, Cricket, Rugby, Football, hell even the team version of tennis, are all teams sports in which Aussies are consistently “in contention” on the international stage.) Just another example of how we are generally a nation of interdependence.  

Teamwork is our groove, always has been.


Independence just is not a big deal in the Australian mythos or pysche. There is an ugly side to this – “Tall Poppy Syndrome” – which is a, now less common, Aussie tendency to “cut down the tall poppy” – to attack, dismiss or marginalise any person who appears to be rising above the average in achievement, particularly cultural or intellectual achievement.

An Aussie Mythos heroic figure from WW 1 - "Simpson and His Donkey".  Not winning a battle - helping a mate.

An Aussie Mythos heroic figure from WW 1 – “Simpson and His Donkey”. Not winning a battle – helping a mate.


Oh, one last example… 2010 36% of adult Australians were involved in unpaid volunteer work. That’s more than one third of the adult population being interdependent for the benefit of others and themselves on their “time off” from work. There are now volunteer organisations promoting this social movement but they are simply catching up to what happened spontaneously, Aussies love being part of something more than just their own little world.

Heros (another term we don’t actually use in our mythos) in Australian eyes are not the chisel jawed silent warriors who single handedly save the day.

An Aussie ‘hero’ is someone who freely helps out someone else just because they need the help and our hands are available.

I hope I’ve painted a kind of accurate picture of various ways independence is simply not a big deal in the Australian frame of reference, not politically, not economically, not socially, not individually.


Bridges and Barricades

Loosely-Related Apologies: I am a writer and a journalist. I am used to writing with deadlines. Unfortunately, I am also used to waiting right up until the moment that those deadlines come. As the designated “Tuesday blogger” I probably should have posted this in the morning. Unfortunately, my writer’s brain read Tuesday as a deadline and so here it is, past midnight on the East Coast of the United States (but not quite Wednesday here in San Francisco) and I am just getting around to posting. Fear not, next week is another opportunity for success.

Double Bay Bridge

Double Bay Bridge

This past weekend was Labor Day Weekend in the United States. A “bank holiday” on which we celebrate doing anything but labor, it is a nation-wide day of rest. A year ago this weekend I was in Kansas City celebrating the wedding of some very dear friends. I had only just moved to the Bay Area of California a few weeks before, and when I returned I found a major change in a vital piece of my city infrastructure, namely the closing of one Bay Bridge and the opening of another.

Officially opened on November 12, 1936, the record-breaking Bay Bridge linked the growing city of Oakland to the thriving city of San Francisco, literally bridging the East and West Bay communities with the largest most expensive steel structure the world had ever seen. It allowed for the transport of vehicles that held people that held ideas that held the sort of promise and innovation that we’ve come to associate with the Bay Area as a whole. Building such a bridge—the longest in the world at the time—was a risky venture. Preceded by over 50 years of discussion, building the Bay Bridge cost time and resources that would take decades to pay back, an expense that might never prove to be worth it.


This is always the case with bridges—literal, metaphoric or otherwise. It costs us something to make connections, to create a gateway for the traffic of words and ideas and feelings and emotions between ourselves and other people, our families and other families, our nation and other nations. Though some bridges are more costly than others, none of them simply “appear” without any effort or expense. Bridges must be built.

Some bridges are natural and easy connections—a professional relationship with a colleague or a weekly arrangement to visit the cinema with a fellow film aficionado. Some bridges cost us very little—the click of a button, the acceptance of a “friend” request, the offhanded “thank you” to the girl who makes our daily lattes. And then other bridges require planning. They are intentional and strategic. They take sacrifice from both parties—a negotiation of resources, a discussion of structure, a compromise on design. The heavier the cargo (whether it is emotional, intellectual, spiritual or otherwise), the stronger the structure of the bridge needs to be. Often these are the bridges that take longest to build, that ask the most of us as people, both as independent individuals and corporate countries.


When I write about the bridges that link people to people, I am also writing about the bridges that link nation to nation and country to country. When it comes to doing “big things” like respecting the earth’s resources, spreading the concept of peace or engaging in cross-cultural understanding, I believe we should start by evaluating such things on local and personal levels. I think this is true for building bridges. For understanding how they function, what they require and why they break down.

In 1989, over fifty years after it first opened, the East Span of the Bay Bridge suffered a partial collapse in the Loma Prieta earthquake. The West Span of the bridge was retrofitted with steel to ensure seismic safety and prevent future collapse. The most cost-effective solution for the East Span was total replacement. For years leading up to the 2013 opening of the new span of the bridge, the two east spans simultaneously arced over the Bay, like a double rainbow streaking a gray-blue skyline. The old and the new, the deteriorating and the developing right alongside one another.

double bay bridgeSometimes bridges break down. Sometimes they are burned. Sometimes the damage is irreparable and the cost of rebuilding seems too much to pay. This is true between companies. It is true between countries. And it is true between people at the deepest, most personal level.

When I relocated to Kansas City in 2010, it was with the intention of moving out with a good friend from university, a girl who knew me backwards and forwards, who had seen me through heartache and encouraged me in despair. We had a bond, a bridge if you will, that was strong. Strong enough to bring me through dashed dreams and unemployment, to keep us connected across countries when she was teaching English in Spain and I was working in a bakery in Nebraska. Strong enough to get me to Kansas City, where we agreed to become roommates. But that bridge was shaken and damaged when her promise fell through, when she moved back in with her parents leaving me without a home, a roommate, or a reason for being there. For a time the bridge between us was closed. I put up barricades to keep her from crossing over. To keep her from hurting me more than she already had. I didn’t trust the bridge would hold and didn’t know if I ever would again. My friend and I had the choice to abandon or rebuild. We chose the latter. We retrofitted our relationship with new experiences and conversations. We took down the barricades and reopened the pathway between us. (We even added new lanes, new memories, new connection).

into the seaOther people have somewhat different ideas when it comes to building bridges. Whereas I have become the kind of person who will consider building them at any cost, bridges, others might point out, can carry more than love and laughter. They are also the means by which we deliver anger and injury, insults and lies. Even people who are typically hopeful can also be pragmatic. And if a bridge is not bringing the sort of resources for which it was created, such people believe it is best to put up barricades or shut the bridge down, maybe even to dismantle it altogether, until piece by piece it disappears as surely as the first span of the Bay Bridge, scrapped for parts and repurposed elsewhere. Maybe this is true. For people and for nations. Maybe this is a part of independence and connection, these bridges we choose to build and to destroy.

I have watched the closure and dismantling of bridges in my life. Bridges that I shut down myself and bridges I would fight to fortify, save, and restore if I could. But the building of a bridge requires two points of contact. You can send shipments of apology and semis of affection, but if one side is closed, that freight falls swiftly to the sea. Those resources and expenses—all that time and trust and negotiation and relationship—is wasted, an investment that will never pay off so long as the barricades are up. So long as repair is not an option and connection is closed.

not neededThere might be a hope of re-opening. A possibility of rebuilding. Perhaps even the potential to reimagine what the bridge could look like. To build a new span of connection capable of withstanding the tumult of conflict. But only if both sides have the capacity to move forward.

The Bay Bridge achieved seismic safety when it opened September 2, 2013. It should withstand any distress caused by future quakes. The construction of bike paths and on ramps is still underway. The bridge is being cared for and enhanced. It will be tested and strengthened and kept up to standards. The old span is no longer necessary now that the new one has been opened. The cargo flows freely, connecting city to city and East to West. Allowing for the movement that keeps both truly free.

Among other fallacies…

In every language, there are some words that will always imply something negative even when they are not neccesarily: manipulation, solitude, sadness, pride… And viceversa, something positive when probably they are not: freedom, knowledge, forgiveness,… independency.  In both cases, their meanings are reinforced by media, social codes, education, convenience (the offender will always praise forgiveness), and more importantly: fallacies. 

I love that word! fallacy, it’s so musical, so sweet, so needed! According to its definition, a fallacy is a mistaken belief based on unsound argument (Apple Dictionary). So, when our reasoning is tired of trying to find a valid argument, we need a fallacy. It’s a survival tool! we have so many in order to survive our daily lives: success, real friendship, eternal love, development, God… and for the matter of this discussion, independency.

I know, I’m being a bit cynical but I want to make my argument clear. There is a point where we need to believe in something that is not neccesarily truth in order to feel that we have some truth. Whatever that is, that’s how our brain works. Valid or not, it’s not the point. What it matters to me is what I chose to be truth and what I don’t. And even, what I know that is not truth, but I chose to keep living with it as if it was. Independency is not one of my chosen truths anymore although I like how it sounds.

Historically speaking, people who lived in this country made their first cry for independency in 1809. They fought for 13 years until they got it and became part of La Gran Colombia (a territory from what it is today Venezuela to Bolivia). Then, they wanted to be independent from it and became Ecuador in 1830. Some historians believe that at that point independency was never achieved. The rich families from Spanish blood took the power from the King and kept it. Power just changed hands. Real independency for the aborigine and mestizo people happened almost a century later, and somehow, it’s still happening! 

Politically and economically speaking, are we really independent? I don’t think so. I live in what the first world calls: a third world country, sorry, a developing country (somehow we are still developing when the others are already developed!) From the 60’s to the 90’s, every country in South-America was governed and heavily influenced, directly or undirectly, by the interests of the US. Now, all our major investors are Chinesse or Brazilian. Can we survive without international invesment? I think no country can. The reason is obvious, no country can be totally self-sufficient. And that’s why independency is a fallacy!

We can only think about being totally independent when we can be totally self-sufficient. Can we? I think the answer is obvious. Independency for me is a delusion, plus, in a personal level, what do we want to be independent from? and what for? When I left home I became independent from my family economically speaking, but emotionally speaking, hardly. In a social level, I think we got it wrong semantically speaking. Instead of independency, it should be in-dependency. We are always in dependency of each other. 

Should Scotland be an independent country? I support the idea only because I cannot understand how at this point of history we still have kingdoms, and it should as every other country should… Now, will it be an independent country? ummmmmm…

Where You Begin And I End

I remember, in the VERY blurry manner with which my rememberer works, one of the occasions when I was introduced to a new class, in a new school after my parents had moved house again. And I would have so much prefered to be on the outside looking in, rather than in the middle being stared at.  The school days weren’t much fun. I do remember that.

Moving the ever so blurry slides on a few years, I vaguely recall sitting on a bridge that crossed over a part of the Bhospurus in Istanbul, eating  fried mussels, washed down with a cold beer, watching the meandering world go by. In a strange, and marvelous city, where I knew nobody, miles from home, friends, and family, yet surrounded by people. And  it was a beautiful, relaxed,  peaceful moment. The kind that sticks to even a teflon coated memory.

Last Friday we had our weekly curry night. These days I’m  blessed with a wife, 5 sons, 4 foster sons, and a daughter (in-law). All but one of them are living with us at the moment, albeit temporarily in some cases.  And, despite being at heart an introvert, there is nothing more enjoyable than sitting there while the boys (yep, it’s the boys, the wee buggers) use me as verbal target practise and I retaliate with some ever so witty responses. I’m almost certain that last Friday was one of those occasions.


Some of the clan.

There are a multitude of ways in which we find ourselve alone and together. And whether alone or together we can find our ourselves feeling both lonely and/or connected. This is true at a personal level, but also at a tribal and even national level. Here in Scotland, in a few weeks, on September 18th to be precise, we will be voting in an historic referendum when we we will have the choice to seperate, at a national level, from a connection that has existed for 300 years. And go it alone. This connection, known as the United Kingdom (and what a claim, or an aim, that is)  consists of ourselves, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

The simple question being asked (and how we frame a question surely has an influence on the answer we recieve) is: Should Scotland be an independent country? And the simple choice is “Yes” or “No.

I’m voting Yes. Despite the fact that last Wednesday I totally agreed with Abner when he wrote on these pages: “I like to think of myself as a universal citizen. I think borders are just imaginary lines that help us, among other things, to divide ourselves”.  But here in the United Kingdom  I see a new border, in this instance,  as a progressive and positive move. A step backwards, in one sense, that will lead to a healthier, more “together” relationship between the countries of the British Isles in the future. I don’t know with certainty that I’m right. But that’s how I’m voting.


My Dutch wife Ineke registering an historic vote for an Independent Scotland by postal ballot

These words we use to describe our multitudinous relationships; connected or apart, dependent, independent, bordered, undivided, close, removed, touched, untouched…they all seem to have clear meanings. And yet those meanings can change appearance, become something other, even turn from good to bad, or vice versa, according to the environment or the context. I’m really not trying to get obtuse here (I have a very easily confused brain, and it’s already starting to struggle) but I do wonder sometimes where you begin and I end. What, if any, is the value of personal independence or of clearly defined lines of seperation between groups of people, in this complicated world where people and words are multiplying like primordial algae. A world in which learning to live together is becoming the most important art.

So, my fellow bloggers, I would be interested to hear your reflections and meditations on the word, the idea, of ‘Independence’ over the coming month. What does it mean to you personally and practically? What does it mean in your country, your part of the world? Is self sufficiency a worthy aim? Or is our path as a human race totally interdependent?

I’m not sure I’ve  made clear (or even know precisely) quite what I’m asking. I think there are a few threads  of thought going on here.  But I’m quietly confident that you all can unravel it. G’luck with that…

– David Fee







Tagged , , , ,