Modern Ways, Modern Thinking?

My two elder children received their first mobile phones last week in preparation for starting high school and although a means to an end for my son, it’s been hard to separate my daughter from hers whilst the novelty is fresh; I apologise to the few family members whose numbers she has for the bombardment of text messages they have been receiving! As well as the expected texting, phoning and selfies that have ensued, I have also been surprised by the amount of interest that she has been taking in the news when on the internet and I’ve frequently had breaking news headlines relayed to me. At one point last week, she asked me who Ivanka Trump was and I explained that she was Donald Trump’s daughter. ‘Oh” came the puzzled response, “it’s just that she’s tweeted that there’s no place for racism, white supremacy and neo-Nazis. Does she not know who her father is?”

True to form, he did not immediately denounce the tragic events in Charlottesville and this silence spoke volumes. It is incomprehensible to me how anyone can truly believe in their superiority simply due to the colour of their skin or country of birth yet they do and what is more worrying is that this does not seem to be diluting through the generations. These are young people with their lives ahead of them and responsible for nurturing the adults of the future not those of a certain age who grew up in an era where this was sadly acceptable. It has been more than 60 years since such discrimination was outlawed and such abhorrent convictions should be, 3 generations later, a distant memory of how things used to be and also a stark reminder of how they must never be again. Yet, more and more, we hear of membership of far right organisations rising and a blatant distrust of fellow compatriots with a different accent or religion to what these zealots consider acceptable.

Not only content with giving tacit approval to the actions of the far right, Trump also decided to alienate more of his citizens by entering into a battle with Kim Jong Un to see who had the biggest toys to play with. If it wasn’t so serious, it would be almost funny – two wee boys arguing over which would be the goodie or the baddie – but these are two of the most powerful men in the world and the actions that they follow through on will not impinge on them, just the millions of innocent bystanders in their attempt to be crowned the winner. Just how much more of a hole can Trump dig himself before the ground gives way completely and we can look forward to someone who respects their position and not someone who seems to be making the most of an exciting new game before they lose interest?

Knowing that where America leads, “Great” Britain follows, things look ever more bleak for our children. Ever eager to hark back to the empiric past and the misapprehension that we are still a great superpower, we have the shambles of our own making, Brexit. Who needs Europe when we can be a great nation all on our own and show everyone who’s boss? Well, as long as America says it’s ok though. Border controls, threats of deportation, frankly xenophobia towards those who have chosen to settle here and there is nothing that Scotland can do about it. I don’t understand the logic of those who say that we voted as one and so the decisions made stand; we are completely separate countries with their own strengths and weaknesses and it is ill-advised to treat the Highlands of Scotland the same as the urban and over populated south east of England.

Here, memories are long of the lore of forced evictions and atrocities of the Clearances and it has taken centuries to begin to return the Highlands to a populated and economically strong land yet again we are under threat of our workers and finance being forcibly removed due to the folly of a Tory Government. The Mannie stands atop Ben Bhraggie as a reminder to our children of that barbarism which must never be forgotten and The Emigrants in Helmsdale gaze sorrowfully at their past and their future. Centuries later, some of the land is being returned to those who live and work there albeit at financial cost as the Garbh Allt Community Initiative buy 3000 acres from the Sutherland family with help from one of the new industries of the north Highlands, the renewable sector. We have to trust that those who never believed strongly enough in 2014 come with us in the next independence referendum to protect our lands, industries and most of all, the people.