Is nationalism narrow parochial sentiment, based on ethnicity and history? Or can it be a broader assertion of the commonality of people sharing a particular geographic space, something outward-looking and positive?
This is a question which needs to be considered as our “date with destiny” fast approaches.
In Tuesday night’s BBC2 programme, What Women Want, Jackie Bird addressed the question of women’s indecision about how they should vote to secure the political, economic and social future of Scotland.
Women often do have a different approach to political debate, and this makes them more hesitant about rushing headlong into decision-making about Scottish independence. Male egos tend to be more self-referential.
Their own interests, beliefs and prejudices tend to drive their decision-making, and this becomes most apparent where broad national interests are concerned, especially when their sense of self becomes inextricably tied up with the issues at stake. War evokes strong passions, and so does nationalist sentiment.
Women’s sense of self is more fluid, and encompasses others in their families, their communities, or even in other countries.
Their response to the effects of war on its innocent victims goes beyond politics and military grandstanding. Of course, compassion is not the sole preserve of women, but comes more readily than anger and lust for revenge.
One of the women in the BBC programme stated this dilemma clearly when she said she felt she had a responsibility to future generations to make the “right” decision. Many of the women took a long-term view of independence, rather than focusing on getting past the post on 18 September.
They were pragmatists, who clearly saw the enticements being offered to them by Alex Salmond.