By Jason Michael
Scotland is caught up in a powerful storm, and it is in the midst of this particular social and political tempest that we have come to a renewed appreciation of our national day – Saint Andrew’s Day. It wasn’t until 2007 with the St. Andrew’s Day Act (Scotland) that 30 November was made a holiday again, and in many respects this Act was the first real clap of the ongoing tempest of change. Later that same year the Scottish National Party under the leadership of Alex Salmond was elected into power at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, and so began a process of political and social changes that have brought us to where we are today.
Andrew, for those familiar with the Christian stories of the saint, is perhaps the perfect symbol for Scotland as it feels its way through the tumult of national self-becoming. In the Gospels we read of the storm on the Sea of Galilee where the waves are so high they threaten to upturn the fishing boat carrying Jesus and his disciples. Everyone on board is in a state of blind panic except for Jesus, who is sound asleep in the stern. Frightened and confused, the disciples – including Peter and his brother Andrew – wake Jesus up. His response to the wind and the waves is to chastise them, and in obedience they simmer down and everyone lives happily ever after (well, not quite).
Symbol is important here, and we use this term deliberately. Whether or not there was a real boat in a storm with Jesus and the lads being chucked about on the swell is of little importance. Like all great mythical tales this is an icon of words, rich in symbolic meaning that can be read into the real lives that we lead – and it is this part of the narrative that is important. Scotland is our wee boat. Let’s call it “Dignity.” Just like the boat in the story we are lost at sea, we are taking on water, and in desperate need of reaching the shore. Our hope of safety is sound asleep in the back.
No, this isn’t to say that Scotland must find Jesus. This is a symbol. We must wake up the hope and salvation of our nation; recover in ourselves – as a united country – the self-assurance and confidence to face down the gales and tell the unruly deep to whist and settle. The fear we have comes from the same sense of powerlessness the disciples had on the boat, but that uncertainty and terror evaporates not when the storm does what we’ve told it, but the moment we tell it. We are finding our voice, and every passing day that voice is getting stronger. We are going to sail through this storm, and all we have to do is say the words.
Chan eil Alba nas fheàrr na dùthchannan eile. Chan eil seo an dùthaich as fheàrr san t-saoghal. ‘S e seo na h-Alba, ar dachaigh, agus an aon dachaigh a tha againn. Feumaidh sinn a bhith moiteil às ar dachaidh bheag, agus feumaidh sinn a bhith moiteil às fhìn. Chan urrainn do dhaoine a bhith moiteil às an dùthaich nach eil aca fhèin. Leig dhuinn Alba a dhèanamh againn fhìn.
Happy St Andrew’s Day!
Author: Jason Michael (@Jeggit)