In Memoriam

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We cannot, and should not, ignore what happened in Paris on 13 November and in Beirut the day before. It is in our nature to strive to make sense of what we experience, even when we know instinctively that the experience itself makes no sense. But before we allow ourselves to be consumed by our sense of outrage and injustice, we should give a thought to the bigger picture. While these atrocities were planned and executed by a small number of individuals, think of the millions of others throughout the world who give of their time, their skill and their material wealth day after day to help others, to give others better lives and better prospects – to give them comfort and bring them hope. I’m talking of doctors and nurses, teachers and aid-workers, engineers and scientists, and the list goes on. Can the few criminals who wreaked such destruction in Paris and Beirut over the past week possibly deserve more attention, more recognition, than the millions of selfless people who toil unheralded, out of the limelight and away from the cameras, for the betterment of Mankind?

We must mourn those whose lives have been taken so brutally and callously; we must care for the injured and comfort those who have lost family and friends in these despicable attacks; we must reflect on what has happened and do more to reduce the likelihood of it happening again; but we must not allow the aggressors to paint the whole world as an evil place for that is their world, not ours.

Scotland shows the way

XpatScotAvatarI left Scotland almost 50 years ago. I haven’t visited Scotland in more than 40 years. But I claim dual allegiance: to Australia, where I live; and to Scotland, where I was born. That is why my avatar (above) comprises the Scottish saltire and a silhouette of the Sydney Opera House. That is why my handle is XpatScot. If I had any doubts about my  affinities, they were dispelled recently, when the Commonwealth Games were hosted in Glasgow. I can claim no credit for that, but I cannot deny the pride I felt – by association – when I saw the spirit in which my countrymen and women staged the games.

When it came to the question of Scottish independence, I was not eligible to vote nor did I feel qualified to have an opinion. It was rightfully a decision for those who live in Scotland now and would be directly affected by the decision taken. But regardless of the outcome, I am proud to know that Scots showed the world how geopolitical change can and should be decided. The Scots did not take arms against the English (this time). The separatists did not seek the support of other nations to force their will on those of their countrymen who did not share their view. And those who sought to establish an independent Scottish state did not resort to terrorism to prosecute their case.

The Scots held a referendum – one person, one vote – and once the people had spoken, the leader of the losing side took to the podium and exhorted his countrymen and women to work together to build a unified Scotland.

Today, I am more proud than ever to have links of birth and heritage to Scotland.

Alba gu bràth

The Boxers

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Union Square, NYC

In the clearing stands a boxer and a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of every glove that laid him down or cut him
‘Til he cried out in his anger and his shame
I am leaving, I am leaving
But the fighter still remains

The Boxer (Simon and Garfunkle)