Our (Un)Common Wisdom series offers thinkers within and outwith our Church a voice in our own reflections. Today we hear from one of our own, Alan McLeod, Eucharistic Minister in East Sutherland.

Alan blogs at


England went on holiday when their national team played at the Brazilian World Cup in the summer of 2014.  The nation was over-flowing with expectation and excitement.  Alas, as is oft times the case, they failed and England woke up deflated, devastated and with the hangover of all hangovers.  Imagine if England had made it to the final and lost by a penalty in the last minute.  Imagine the disappointment and collective depression?  Now, imagine if the penalty was given because the opposing striker had dived?  Simulation it’s called.  Almost dissimulation.

I know that many in Scotland feel that way today.  Some are angry.  But I have two sage pieces of advice.  The first comes from Sicily where the people are perpetually crushed by corruption and the Mafioso.  They have a saying: “our wisdom lies in expecting the worst”.  I think many of us in Scotland would do well to heed that Sicilian advice.  The second comes from Seneca who said “we cease to be so angry when we cease to be so hopeful.”

Scotland, well 85% of Scotland, placed its hope and expectation in politics and democracy.  And it hoped for far too much.  All democracy did was agonise over money rather than feelings, philosophy, spirituality and what it means to each and every one of us to be Jock Tamson’s Bairn.  Now there is a strange vacuum and we all know that Nature abhors that.

In a democracy the narrowest of majorities still secures all of the power and the minority, however large, loses.  I ask you, what was the name of the horse that came second to Red Rum?  No-one remembers second place, no-one remembers the losers.  But that is democracy and to the 85% of people who voted I say that by casting our vote we bought into the process and like it or lump it, we all have to live with it.  We can’t spit oot our dummies and throw away the toys just because we didn’t get what we wanted.  In more chivalrous terms “if we live by the sword we die by the sword”, meaning if we live by the pen and democracy we have to live with the results of the pen and democracy. Scotland is going to get what she voted for and what she deserves. 

The dignified and patriotic thing to do now is to forget about the politicians and their polemics; forget about the economists and their statistical lies.  What we have to do now is build a country that raises itself out of the gutter and is grander than just a political football.  We are revered around the world for our hospitality, our humour, our honesty and our humility.  Like charity, these virtues begin at home and so let us be hospitable, humorous , honest and humble with each other.

It is better to be remembered for dignity when the lids close upon our coffins than for bitterness and anger.  It was a Day of Reckoning and we must all account for how we are to live our tomorrows.