With Great Responsibility Comes Great Power

adbusters2We continue our series in celebration of International Women’s Day with Clare Galloway

A question rises up for me, out of the ashes of the pointless fiery talk from the heating debate on the Scottish referendum. Heckle-based rhetoric and heid-bashing comes across the airwaves to me, and through the blurry clouds of social media. I hear a lot of repetition of the ‘But what will happen when…?!’ and the ‘Oh lord help us, the instability…!’ But the more potent question that I want to ask everyone is: do you have the faith in yourself to make the decisions which come with independence? A quote by Erica Jong came to me this morning: “Take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no-one to blame”

As a woman particularly, this resonates for me; to my responsibility as a Scot; as a Scottish citizen in the world, and as a person aware of the downward trajectory of much of modern life and values. My hope is that we will learn to leap from the turning of this tide, onto better shores. But it is certainly far easier to blame, and to whinge from a greater distance indeed, than it is to bring the responsibility for social, economic and national well-being into one’s own home, one’s own very body, and life choice.

We live in an age where taking responsibility for the ripple effects of our every action and thought is becoming increasingly obviously vital (not optional, but essential) to the very continuing of life on the planet. This year, and this ballot box, will decide not just a) YES! or b) no about our parliamentary location, but will have vast world-changing consequences in just about every area of modern life, from which grand echoing effects south of the border, and over and beyond the seas around us, will ensue.

If it does go the way of the status quo then there are several things which we will be guaranteed –which perversely the no campaign are not shouting from their dubious propaganda machine- there will be wars; death and destruction of innocent lives, and of essential ecological systems, and there will be further debasing of the most basic of civil liberties and human comforts, which are already evidently severely compromised. And what the hell is this happy continuity : the privilege, naw – the honour, of having been permitted/ had the capacity to bail the banks out?! What the fuck* does that say to you about stability?!

What we are also guaranteed, on the other hand, and if we speak up, particularly as women, is that… our voices will be heard, and will be acted upon: our opinion and decision will be heard by a parliament proportionate to our size and character, and who will be housed in a building in the centre of our capital city. A place where, if we find their contribution to be insufficient, we can get on a ferry and/ or a Megabus and go and speak to them face-to-face and rap them over the knuckles if need be. They will not be housed in a guarded fortified street where it is forbidden to enter, nor behind the sinister façade of big business and banking.

It’s no accident, women, that we are marginalised. We’re singled out as inferior (different and therefore less), alongside anyone and anything else who/ which isn’t part of the all-consuming material model: the white, male, privileged few aggressors, who see the rape-and-oppression-of-all-things as par for the course of their own powers’ comfort and pleasure. Women’s gentler ways and acceptance, our ability to thrive on so little, to make marvelous things out of nothing, these qualities have purposefully been permitted minimal influence for centuries. But we all know now, how vital their place is becoming in the world: we all know how essential it is that we all learn the art of listening before directing, of honouring all voices, of paying attention to the wee ’uns, of making sure there’s enough for everyone.

THAT my friends is stability, and all we have to do, to bring this stability to the world, is to quietly, in our inimitable feminine way, calmly walk to our polling station and tick a positive box. THIS is how the world changes, and it’s about time we showed the whole world! It’s most definitely the time for us women to start being the positive influence by our actions, and not continuing the preposterously barbaric course of history with false words.

I ask you all, beautiful sisters, to look at the mannerisms and stance of this argument for Scotland, to listen well, deep inside your heart and your truth, and to feel your way into the right path for Scotland. It’s obvious to me (as a woman who has never compromised nor held back, and who chose the freedom of a creative path and a nomadic lifestyle) which path we choose, to lead our country to a wildly different and more positive place and time, but it needs to be obvious to us all: we all need to look into our hearts, to ruminate long and hard. We need to know that we are responsible in this, and to act like it.

*I’m sorry to be harsh about this, but it really needs saying in an appropriately firm manner, as folks don’t seem to be noticing these elephant-in-the-room incongruences in the negative campaign. The no campaign is riddled with them: the status quo only works as a palatable model because our country has been so demeaned into believing the inevitability of familiar discomfort. Watching from a distance, in a supposedly peasant-ish Italian culture (folks working mostly from the land), the quality of life here is phenomenally higher simply because people, food, land are placed at the core of societal values.


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  1. Thomas Muir of Huntershill says:

    Truly inspiring. Let us tell the world, let us show the world thet we shall re-ignite the enlightenment, we shall inspire and we will feed our children with hope and the aspiration that we can do good not just for Scotland but for the wider world. Never underestimate the power we in Scotland have.

  2. biowrite says:

    Yes, the phrase ‘preposterously barbaric’ says it all. We have to end this, and the ‘ability to thrive on [.’] little, to make marvellous things out of nothing’ is essential if we are not to destroy the ecology on which we all depend, I direct people to an article by Eliot Coleman in the March/April 2014 issue of Resurgence/The Ecologist in which he refers to the perception in most circles that it is considered unworthy of educated people to involve themselves in food production. This perception is pathological, and my realisation of this is why I am so pleased to belong to the board of the charity Leith Community Crops in Pots (http://www.leithcommunitycropsinpots.com/), founded by Evie Murray, a visionary woman. Small-scale agriculture, which is not dependent on fossil fuels and it the antithesis of agroindustry, and in which many women play a leading role, is our only hope. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixx1c3RSw_8

    Male egos thrive on grand projects. These have proved disastrous and if they continue to dominate the policy agenda they will destroy us. Examples include fracking, GM and, I argue (sorry, James Lovelock) nuclear power. We need smaller things, in local hands, not in those of mega-corporations. The latter empathy-free (psychopathic) entities are, arguably, the ultimate expression of the male ego in a neoliberal world.

    Having said all this, there are many of us (men) who are aware of this. If you want to describe everything in terms of the male/female dichotomy, then we respect our ‘feminine’ sides too.

    Alas, this is all set in the context of (1) desperate status competition in the materialistic and unequal society shaped by neoliberalism, and (2) men’s innate drive to impress women (potential mates, in evolutionary terms). At the risk of offending some women, I would say that not all the blame lies on the male side. Women, perhaps you need to question yourselves if you are attracted to men whose raison d’etre is the accumulation of wealth and power regardless of the consequences for society as a whole. You want security, but the security offered by material wealth, as displayed though flash cars, overseas holidays and shares in oil companies, is making all of us insecure.

    1. Jason says:

      Eric no offence man but that was a bit of a rant there that seems to me to have nothing what-so-ever to do with the points Clare is getting across here. It looks like you are projecting your own personal issues onto Clare’s ideas in the form of sweeping negative statements. Not really the place for this!

      1. biowrite says:

        Puzzled by your response, Jason. This has nothing to do with personal issues. It’s a comment on the widespread glorification of wealth and hard power by our society in which both women and men play a role. It’s essentially in agreement with the general meaning of the essay, I think.

  3. This George Bernard Shaw quote from Back to Methuselah seems appropriate:
    “You see things; you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?”

    1. claregallowayartist says:

      I love that quote, Jingsandthings! Thank you for sharing it 🙂

  4. douglas clark says:

    That is a heck of a mash up of a photograph!


  5. Take your power back, sisters.
    There are many of us men who see things clearly now for what they are and we support you all the way.

    1. claregallowayartist says:

      Yeh, thanks Maxstafford60093! Your clarity of vision, and your support is VERY much appreciated, by us women! 😀

      1. You’re welcome Clare. It’s Scotland’s women who will shape our new nation alongside the men. I want that to be fully reflected in the iScotland we create together. A bit less testosterone in high places will do everyone good!

  6. tartanfever says:

    Powerful and passionate article that I wholly accept and agree with.

    Except (there has to be a but) for what i regard as something of a myth:

    ‘Women’s gentler ways and acceptance, our ability to thrive on so little, to make marvelous things out of nothing’

    Margaret Thatcher, Johann Lamont, Theresa May, Margaret Curran, Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Imelda Marcos, Marine Le Pen, Pauline Hanson ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pauline_Hanson ) to name a few off the top of my head are examples that certainly don’t live up to ‘gentler ways’.

    1. claregallowayartist says:

      Hi Tartanfever, The women you refer to are those who have used macho/ aggressive/ negative aspects of male behaviour to get where they did, and this is not the way the world needs to move forward. Unfortunately, it was (and is) a sign of old things, which are dying away, as we choose to support ‘gentler ways and acceptance’, which are, indeed, feminine traits. I’m referring to ‘feminine’ in the profound sense of the yin.yang balance; of course both women and men all have varying degrees of male and female qualities, in a great spectrum of creativity and destruction. I’m proposing that we start supporting a more feminine (as in cooperative, creative, healing, wholing) politics, which I feel IS awakening in Scotland… (But one can only fit so much into a short article!) 🙂 Good wishes, and thanks for commenting.

  7. fehvepehs says:

    There is no need to apologise for saying “fuck”. If educated women, like yourself, become comfortable saying it then there is a power to be gained as it throws a bit of uncertainty into the male boardroom psyche. They won’t know how to react when they are told to “fuck right off” with their greedy self centred plans for the world
    Great Blog!!

    1. claregallowayartist says:

      🙂 Thank you ‘fehvpehs’- and yes, it’s true… I was just watching my back for the po-faced 😉

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