Imagine a state with a population of about 5 million people, proud of its cultural heritage and industrious history but conscious of the growing challenges of the 21st century.
A little more than half of that population lives in one large urban area, with the rest of the people spread thinly over a beautiful countryside blessed with an abundance of natural resources.
It sounds like Minnesota, but the state in question is talking seriously about voting to become independent of the larger country that it's been part of for centuries. We are talking about Scotland.
Next September, Scottish voters will cast ballots on whether to become independent of the United Kingdom. It's a yes-or-no vote, but journalist Lesley Riddoch is encouraging Scots, and anyone else who is interested, to look at the much larger challenges Scotland faces as a small nation in the modern world.
In her new book, "Blossom: What Scotland Needs to Flourish," she argues that the independence vote, no matter which way it goes, is meaningless unless Scotland deals with its own contradictions. The book will be published in the United States early in the new year.
From a review in The Scotsman:
Explicitly presented as a polemic, its bold assertions will no doubt antagonise some readers. Yet, there is much that is thought-provoking in Riddoch's accounts of collective and community action, her denunciations of persistent inequalities in Scotland, and her views about what needs to change. Her book expresses a real sense of frustration at the lack of progress in tackling Scotland's inequalities. Why haven't we improved our poor health record? Why is so much land still owned by so few? Why are women still underepresented in politics and public life? Why don't people care enough to get involved or turn out to vote in council elections? Riddoch's answer is that people have been disempowered by top-down governance, and passively accept that change is impossible.