This morning I woke up to the news that Scotland voted No! to leaving the United Kingdom of Great Britain. I have mixed feelings. Overall, I am very relieved that our country has not lost a big chunk of itself. During the campaign, people have talked about the UK as a family and it certainly does feel that if Scotland had left, it would have been like losing a brother or sister. On the other hand, there was something very exciting about the Yes campaign. The idea of a new, independent country, proud of its strength and character, making its own decisions, breaking away from the rule of the London parliament; all of this was very appealing. I asked myself, if I was Scottish, how would I have voted? I think I would have voted “Yes” to being independent.
I started to think about identity. I come from Yorkshire, in the North of England, a part of the country that has its own traditions, attitudes and character. Although I have not lived in Yorkshire for many years, I still consider myself to be “a Yorkshire lass” underneath. I am also a Londoner, with a great affection for the city in which I am now living. I am English, but I prefer to think of myself as British, because that identity feels more inclusive. I am also happy to be European, and part of a union of many different countries and cultures. And being European means I am lucky enough to be able to work in many of these countries, including my beloved Reunion.
So I have many identities, and depending on time and place and circumstances, I may feel more like one of them than the other. People in Reunion also have many identities: you could be Malbar, Creole, Reunionais, French, part of Europe, a member of the Indian Ocean community. You can be one of them, or a bit of all of them at once. I think the idea of identity is a very shifting, changeable concept.
So, I’m glad this morning to find that I’m still a citizen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain (because I could have been part of a new country – United Kingdom of not-so-great Britain, maybe). But out of all my possible identities, perhaps the one I enjoy and delight in the most is: Citizen of the World!
mixed feelings – une melange d’émotion
chunk – un gros morceau
campaign – la campagne
rule – le mandat, dominion
lass – une jeune fille
beloved – bien aimé
glad – contente
citizen – citoyen
to delight in – prendre plaisir a