This post takes us to my native Scotland. A Highlander Bull stands in silhouette against a Saltire-coloured sky. He is dark, a defiant shape on the horizon. His horns make a determined point, his bulky body ensures we keep our distance.
In the morning the farmer wakes early to lead him towards his house. He feeds him by hand, sits by his side to brush his long, red-haired coat. The bull placidly follows, chews on a thistle, bellows so softly.
In Scotland this past two weeks has marked the agreement on the terms for a reference for independence. It is exciting, but also now a slightly nervous reality. We Scots like the romantic history of battles we fought against the English, the dramatic defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie, the sharp words of The Bard Robert Burns, the bravery of William Wallace, the strength of our Kings and Queens. We re-enact them on football pitches, sell them to tourists, toast them in our pubs, speak them in heated, cocksure rhetoric.
Now on paper, in legal terms, independence is no longer a romantic dream, it is a real possibility. Now, we must determine if it is a reality we want according to sober statistics, long legal documents and economic prospects. Our hearts, our myths, our ancestors are silent. They no longer speak for us. Now independence must be assessed by our heads. That is not where our passions lie.
The silhouette image of the Highlander Bull speaks to Scotland’s romantic past. The image of the lone, warrior, fighting and defending his land. Fighting against rough, barren terrain, seeking freedom at all cost. The reality is of course the morning breakfast with the farmer, a much more mundane and quiet affair, without the romance of myth or the illusion of grandeur.
There is still much to be determined, much to be seen. Whatever choices we make in 2014, it is this week we realised that even if in the future we can (and most likely will) create a myth of this moment, the results of the referendum for us will be much less dramatic and much more vital.