Sunday, May 15, 2005

Reflections on Scotland

This morning as I was sitting awaiting the very slow bus to Glasgow, I was thinking about the kindnesses here--the good day!, lovely day, isn't it?, have a great day, a great holiday, a lovely vacation!!!. I was watching the trash man on a Sunday morning pick up the small bits left by the Sat. night folks. Whistling, he put the trash in bags and drove off to the next street. There is infrastructure here. Clean streets, public toilets immaculate for 20 pence, no homeless beggars wandering the streets even in the large cities, public phones that work, libraries filled with children, reading groups, free internet connection, and also this sense of caring.

The B and B owner insisted on driving me to the bus stop, the gentleman at the end of my walk to the craigs showed me what he was doing which was building a walk way for people to go to the falls nearby. This was all on his own. He told me that he and his sons had rebuild the cairn at the top of the craigs and that they had reconstructed the Red Well. He wanted to know what I thought about them. I said I liked that people cared about the past and their history and marked and honored special places. He said no one knew about the springs like they used to. I walked on saying, "Well enjoy your work! " "Oh I do," he said. "That's why I do it" and he began digging. The woman at the B and B knew him. "He's filling his retirement with good works", she said.

Of course this is small town stuff and ignores the color coordinated motorcyclists who reve their motors through town and the ubiquitous Golden Arches and KFC's and the increased girths of a people who used to walk everywhere through the countryside, staying lean and healthy.

But all of us staying in Crieff felt an unfamiliar caring attitude around us so that on the the 50ith "have a great trip" said as if it is meant, suddenly the armour we didn't know we were carrying was peirced and softened. JA , who is our tough love advocate, laughed and imitated the way it affected her by sobbing and saying, "Oh yes thank you. I'll try to enjoy my day." We are not used to being surrounded by good wishes. We felt so uncivilized, so hardened, and it lead us to believe we live in an abusive culture. We pride ourselves on "every man for himself" and "you're on your own," and "dog eat dog" world view which is supported and sustained by the way we believe it 's survival of the fittest . We have to claw our way to the top. The GNP is more important than the welfare of the people--when someone gets cancer, the GNP goes up. How is that an indicater of the well being of the nation??? We are encouraged to get happy by buying items we don't really need instead of caring for each other--such thoughts of caring are wusy, liberal, tear jecking weaknesses that should be ignored or eliminated--it is shameful. And yet I read somewhere that fully 1/4 of AMericans are on anti depressants or anti anxiety drugs which makes me wonder if our world view is really working so well-uncounted are the alcoholics and those on illegal drugs. We seem able to love and care for our families and friends, but the thought of paying for someone else's comfort is aborrant to us.

Of course, maybe all the good will here is drug induced. I don't know the statistics for Scotland. But survival of the fittest is a genetic law and not a social one, and a culture that claims the pursuit of happiness can be achieved by buying things, neglects the needs of the human heart .

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