Babylon.

The problem with Babylon; that is, the way things are; is not that it will never fall. The problem is that there is nothing rising up to meet it as it descends. The powers holding this tentative flight in motion are doing absolutely everything possible to  ensure that we are all too distracted, too scattered, too divided, too confused and too scared to realise that we must become the very ground that the system smashes into – the rock that breaks the wave. This immovable object must come from us. Perhaps the most dangerous illusion of all in all of this is that the rock hard ground is already there and that our role is merely that of the bystander. Just as we created it, so too should we destroy it. With nothing in place, Babylon will fall forever, just as it has been doing since it was built on the sand, thousands of years ago.

 

~L

What A Night

I did something I’ve never done before last night; I stayed up to watch the General Election results come in live. Finally getting to sleep after 5am, my brain was buzzing with excitement, dread, hope and fear.

The SNP result has reiterated the unsurprisingly real difference between Scottish and British styles of thinking that, whatever your political views, cannot be denied. The British values of imperialism, conservatism and altogether downright selfishness have never been fully welcomed by the Scottish people. We are deeply rooted in the beliefs of fairness, democracy and power to the people. This, feeling, is hard to put into words. It comes from the ground, from the land we walk on, from the rocks, trees, animals and the very air we breathe, the water we drink and the crops we farm. To try and put this feeling into words is quite simply beyond my abilities.

The result across the UK has shifted from a coalition to a, out-and-out victory for the Conservatives. It is early doors, but this says to me that generally speaking, the people of the UK are scared. The individual’s chief concerns are that of self-improvement, of protecting what they own, of providing what they think they need for their families and their families alone. In a modern, fast and distracting world where the feeling is that things can change at the drop of a hat, where we are told to fear enemies from far away lands that wouldn’t loathe us quite so much if we hadn’t been self-obsessed power hungry imperialists in the first place.

This time around, a vote for Conservative is not only a vote for self-confessed economic stability, it is a vote of confidence in the unfair society that we currently reside in, a vote that favours the rich and continues to downpress the working classes. It is a vote to scrap benefits for young people, it is a vote to continue selling the NHS, it is a vote to maintain zero hour contracts under the guise of making sacrifices in order to bring the country out of a recession. It is a vote to continue to penalise the poorest sectors of the people. I can’t help but wonder how they sleep at night. The result shows Britain to be a place ruled, at present, by selfishness and self-gain. A sentiment that is not shared north of the border.

The Scottish result shows a much more forward-thinking, progressive form of politics. The ousting of Margaret Curran, Anas Sarwar and other political dinosaurs is a very welcome shift, as is “Earthworm” Jim Murphy losing his seat to the SNP, and Gordon “I saved the union” Brown’s old seat also getting swept aside.

Perhaps the most positive result of all was that of Mhairi Black, who, by a landslide, saw off Labour’s Douglas Alexander; former shadow foreign secretary and the man in charge of Ed Miliband’s general election campaign. The 20 year-old politics student and chip shop worker spoke concisely and positively from her winning podium, and did not look a bit fazed by the fact that she is the youngest MP elected since 1667. Quite an achievement, and demonstrates the Scottish mindset of progression and forward-thinking that is absent across a lot of the rest of our island. I don’t believe that any other main parties would have ever allowed a 20 year-old woman to stand for election.

Generally speaking, I think many of the the large nest of fledgling SNP MPs soon to be winging their way to Westminster have a fresh, untouched, borderline naive air about them, and I think that it’s a good thing. The House of Commons is a dusty relic and could do with a heavy injection of fresh faces from all corners of the country. Either that or rebuild it in keeping with modern times, although with the present government so intent on things staying at the same stagnant low watermark, I fear that if this were to happen, Westinster would be rebuilt to an inch-perfect replication of itself. At the expense of the taxpayer, of course. The well of inspiration has very much run dry down there, the algae creeping slowly towards the lip of the cesspool. Here’s hoping that the SNP give it somewhat of a hosedown. The pressure must be switched on for progression’s sake.

Speaking of progression and reform brings me to another worrying rhetoric; the UKIP vote. The UKIPPers received 12% of the UK vote, but due to the tired, outdated voting system they only received a single seat. Compare this with the SNP share of around 5%, getting 56 seats. Now, all personal opinions aside, this does note bode well for the system as we know it. Results like this do not demonstrate a democracy at work, and any other government bar the Conservatives would likely have seeked to change this in some way. The democrat in me is left sorely conflicted and a little disheartened by these numbers. 120 UKIP second places and 364 third places is something that will not be brushed aside.

However, here is another resounding contrast between us and them. UKIP are essentially non-existent in Scotland, being placed in the 2.5% of Scots votes for “other” parties (including all the Green votes, independents and the singular-minded “Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol” party).

If this election has confirmed anything for Scotland, it is that the political ideas in the rest of the UK are utterly unwelcome in our land now. It is time for change, however we continue to be governed by a socially removed man from a privileged party who so far has not listened to us.

When I finally got to bed, and when I eventually rose from a disturbed and unpleasantly twisted sleep, the birds were tweeting, the sun was shining and the grass felt warm between my bare toes. We are still orbiting our favourite little star and still hurtling, together, through space and time at speeds unfathomable to us. The election has been a remarkable, somewhat uncomfortable and yet still resoundingly positive distraction. The message to each other in Scotland regardless of political preference is that things need to change, and I can feel comfortable in saying that I think that we’re on the right path. The people of Scotland will continue to scream it from the rooftops, and our MPs will channel that passion, defining, distilling and refining it as best they can into the trough of agendas from which the Westminster folks take their fill.

Fear not, we still have each other. Now, I’m off to see my pals. Love and light to everybody.

A quick word..

There are many, many thoughts and emotions coming to me with regards to the referendum result. Perhaps the most telling was this observation: Walking around yesterday, travelling to and from college, generally spending time in Scotland, it felt strange. Cities were still and quiet. It did not feel like a victory. It did not feel as though one side had triumphed over the other. Many people noticed this vibe too. The air had a suppressing, bleak quality to it.

The feelings of discontent and injustice have now been thrust into people’s faces, and that is an action that cannot be undone. I see a lot of people closing their eyes, turning away when such things are displayed to them, but, like it or not, all of this is here to stay, here to grow, here to undoubtedly triumph. Justice, fairness, and truth will all prevail eventually. To quote Irvine Welsh;

The smartest of them have always seen independence as a process, not an event.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/20/irvine-welsh-scottish-independence-glorious-failure – A good and reassuring read.

In the meantime, here’s what we need to do;

http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2014/09/19/wipe-your-eyes-on-your-feet/

Peace out.

The Hardest Part Of Traveling No One Talks About

Thought Catalog

image - Flickr / Corie Howell image – Flickr / Corie Howell

You see the world, try new things, meet new people, fall in love, visit amazing places, learn about other cultures – then it’s all over. People always talk about leaving, but what about coming home?

We talk about the hard parts while we’re away – finding jobs, making real friends, staying safe, learning social norms, misreading people you think you can trust – but these are all parts you get through. All of these lows are erased by the complete highs you experience. The goodbyes are difficult but you know they are coming, especially when you take the final step of purchasing your plane ticket home. All of these sad goodbyes are bolstered by the reunion with your family and friends you have pictured in your head since leaving in the first place.

Then you return home, have your reunions, spend your first two…

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Stop the Brainwashing

I am staunchly anti-racism. I am a supporter of fairness, truth and human rights, and I believe in the power of choice remaining in the hands of the individual.

I am sick of people trying to tell me what to think, how to vote, who to love, what direction to pray and what to put in my mouth.

 

Tabloids.

 

Jeremy Clarkson. Once again, the man is the source of some headlines in some newspapers that people unfortunately read. He is currently facing a lot of backlash for something he mumbled that wasn’t aired on the BBC. Granted, the man’s presenting style is naturally close to the bone, and he has been known to stir up current issues whilst presenting Top Gear, but a racist, he is not. I think that, in an age of political correctness gone overkill, his provocative style is a refreshing nod to simpler times.

Jeremy Clarkson is not a baddie. The people at fault here are the girls and boys behind the Daily Mirror, who published the offending slurred nursery rhyme footage in the first place. The only reasons behind this were those of profit, and as a result, they are causing a lot of hurt to many people. Clarkson should not have provided his provocateurs with more ammunition by offering up an apology.

I think a lot of people need to make up their own minds on such issues. The problem with these tabloids is that they are tailored towards people who require escape. People whose own thoughts terrify them so much that the very prospect of self-awareness and free thinking are completely alien to them. Stop believing and start living.

Well done Daily Mirror, you once again dangled the carrot and we chased it round and round and round….

Don’t worry, Clarkson. I still love you.

The Road Has Always Led West.

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I had been travelling for two and a half months. The last large body of water I had encountered had been the mighty Mississippi as it winds its way through New Orleans. From there I had embarked on a train ride through Texas, stopping for a week at San Antonio. The searing dry heat of the middle of this great Southern state was overwhelming, so naturally I decided to press on and partake in a road trip across the Southwest desert states of the USA. My temporary travelling companion, Daniel, owned a van and we flitted between state and national parks sampling the arid sacred spaces of the Native American people; places they had long worshipped for, amazingly, their sources of water and thus power. We drove during the day, listening to music and discussing most things, and at night we made fires with unbelievable ease and sat around admiring the stars. We felt like kings; unstoppable and all-knowing and soon the sky and earth seemed to merge into one, each complimenting the other with its vastness. We drove through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, before I arranged to jump ship and ride with another pilgrim on a journey to Seattle. A couple of days later, I was on the road yet again, this time heading South, down the Pacific coast.

 

I come from the East coast of Scotland, near the beach town of Dunbar. All my life I have tasted the salt in the air, heard screaming gulls overhead and watched ships pass, carrying their cargo to places now well known. The contrast between this and the middle of North America, where I was at times over a thousand miles from the nearest ocean, is startling. The very ground you walk on feels different. The air feels different. Some of the people we encountered on this adventure had never seen the sea! This is unheard of in the UK. The coastline of Britain gives those native to the Isles a sense of grounding and reliability. Comparing this to the enormousness of the USA, I felt truly lost and very, very small.

 

One can imagine then, my delight when my third travelling companion, a very precise German man called Gunnar, informed me how close we were to the Pacific Ocean. This is an ocean that, as a Scot, I had never seen. We pulled up in a tiny sleepy coastal town in Oregon at around midnight, looking for a place to rest up. Gunnar excitedly turned the engine off and told me to roll down the window. I heard a roar, and immediately exited the vehicle. Sea!

 

That familiar, refreshing noise! I was beside myself. The sound of the Pacific gently crashing into the sand, both familiar and alien. I inhaled deeply and felt the salt and moisture in my throat. Years, it seemed, had lead up to this moment. Many songs have been written about this coast. Thousands of images, and an entire culture at our fingertips, retinas and ears. The whole world has watched and longed for whatever it is that the West Coast has. The lifestyle seemed so appealing, and here I was, at the top of the slide, ready to jump into what I was sure would be a sensory delight.

 

And it was. I’ll certainly never forget it.

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