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Our independence stories

Focusing In

This is one of a series of postings that relate to a research project I’ve been conducting on using a model of practical theological reflection in relation to the independence question that is being put to voters in Scotland on 18th September this year. You can read about the project in more detail – including an explanation about the model of reflecting here.

I’m going to share, suitably anonymised, some of the observations made by the focus participants. You’re invited to take part too – online – as the series of posts unfolds.

Here are some of the stories that participants told when I asked them to start off the group conversation by giving an example of their own independence.

“About two years ago a lot of things in my life came to an end and I went to New Zealand to stay with some friends. For three months wandering around New Zealand on my own, mostly on my own anyway. So I’d that experience of being completely free from any kind of almost responsibility or obligation so that’s really my experience of independence.” Adam

“I was thinking about leaving home and coming down to [a large city]; at the time my parents were in [a very small town] in the north of Scotland. And coming to [the city], and staying in [university] halls and staying in…a room with two other people that I’d never met in my life, and leaving home and having to start to think about having to do my own ironing and everything like that.” Adele

“It was the experience of becoming an independent practitioner as opposed to being a member of [an organisation]… I resigned from my job significantly earlier than I would have retired from it. And I became a private practice person and I felt an incredible sense of freedom…I had a strange transition into that because in the early days on the Monday morning I thought, I wonder if anyone will see me? ‘Who’s she; shopping instead of being at work!'” Edna

“My father died when I was quite young; my mother was that very typical Glasgow woman, very, very good organiser – could run absolutely everything. Ran all of our lives perfectly for us – and made many decisions for us – but firmly believed that she’d educated us and [we] had to go out and leave. So I left Glasgow aged 21 and moved down to England. And just the whole thing about being in a strange place, people didn’t talk properly, didn’t laugh at the same things I did, and ate funny food. And ate vegetables [laughs] – I’d never really seen all that many vegetables before – apart from peas and sprouts at Christmas and turnip. That was quite something.” Sadie

“I set off with two friends and we were interested in classical Greece so we…sat on a train for 3 days, and one of the things I remember very vividly was feeling completely as though I was free – effectively – and not being directed by parents to do things. So we wandered around and we slept on trains and on beaches and managed to sleep in a temple – and I don’t suppose they would, [let anyone sleep in] a Greek temple, don’t suppose they would allow that now. And I think the added bit of freedom was the fact that the only way you could communicate in those days was actually by leaving letters post restante. So, rather reluctantly, I’d trot along to the main post office in Athens and pick up the mail requested us to reassure people back home that we were safe and well kind of thin. And I remember looking at these and thinking I will let them know but I don’t necessarily feel I want to or have to all the time. And it was an exhilarating feeling certainly.” Debbie

Questions for you to consider.

  • What is the story you would share about your own experience of independence? You’re welcome to contribute by posting to this blog.
  • Having read a variety of experiences, what strikes you most from others’ stories of independence? You might like to post a comment in that vein.


The next step in the cycle of reflection turns to how you perceive the independence debate to be going – but please keep your comments on that until that blog post which will appear on Saturday 9th August.

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