- Posted August 5, 2014 by
England, United Kingdom
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Land's End to John O' Groats: The Last Ride (maybe)
On September 18, Scotland will vote on whether or not they will stay a part of the United Kingdom. On that day, this huge issue will be boiled down to a simple yes-or-no question:
“Should Scotland be an independent country?”
A ‘yes’ vote and Scotland is on its own. A ‘no’ vote means that Scotland will stick with England, Wales and Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom. If Scotland votes ‘yes’ there will be a whole legion of legal, economic and social issues that will need to be resolved. Succession from a union is a complicated, messy process. However, what is really fascinating about this issue is the universality of it. All around the world, from Quebec to Syria to Xinjiang to Texas to Catalonia and beyond, talks of succession and independence circulate. It really is a question of identity. What does it mean to be independent? How do you separate one group from another? Where does one’s identity begin and end? Fortunately for Scotland, the independence process is about as peaceful as you could hope for—no suicide bombers or terrorist attacks or violent separatists are marring the vote. Yes or no, independence is far preferable coming from a ballot box rather than a gun.
I will be bicycling the famous route of Land’s End in Cornwall to John O’Groats in Scotland. There are two reasons for this:
1) If Scotland votes yes, walking or biking or driving the historic path might not mean as much as before. It will be collateral damage of the independence vote. It might be the last time to do the ‘traditional’ route. I think, in a certain way, the Land’s End to John O’Groats route symbolizes the unity of the U.K.
2) Here’s the more important reason. Along the way I will be interviewing people from all over the U.K. and Ireland for their thoughts and feelings about the referendum. (Though Ireland isn’t part of the U.K., they were about 100 years ago, they have a long, complicated history relating to this, so their perspective is relevant). I started in London and the first interview will be coming from London. Then I will take a train into Cornwall and cycle up into Wales, over to the Republic of Ireland, up towards Northern Ireland, back over to England and up through Scotland and on towards the Orkney and Shetland islands. It’s not your traditional path to John O’Groats but I want to make sure to get wide and varied viewpoints from all the countries and areas that have a stake in this issue. By the end of the trip, I’ll have a several differing viewpoints from all over the U.K. and Ireland and from all walks of life.
Musings on not being British
I am keenly aware that I’m an outsider in all this. I have no real ties to this part of the world outside some muddled genealogical heritage. I have no stake in the game; it’s not going to impact my life very much if Scotland is independent or not. I’m an American who has just spent the last five years on China, so I’m certainly aware what it means to be a foreigner. However, I feel that the same thing that alienates me is the same thing that liberates me. I am a blank slate, unhindered by geological or historical biases, so that puts me in a unique position to listen and try to present an encompassing view on the situation. I’ll be interviewing businessmen and politicians and everyday people who are watching to see if the union will crack before their eyes.
Questions Searching for Answers
So, what does it mean to be Scottish? What does it mean to be a part, or not a part, of the United Kingdom? What greater implications does the Scottish Referendum have for other countries and areas all across the world? These are the questions I hope on discovering as I make my way from Land’s End to John O’