From an early age I have been fascinated by words. As a school and university student I was exposed to some of the most radical writings of the 60’s and 70’s. I had one of those inspirational teachers we can all remember. His subject was English and he introduced us to the marvels of Dylan Thomas and many of the then ‘new wave’ of writers back in the day.
Where words came from and were both used and mis-used, has been a lifetime source of delight, curiosity and concern for me. As a child I recall being interested and confused at being described by my gran as a ‘war baby’. At that stage I had no real idea where babies came from, but that they might have been the product of warfare was alarming to say the least.
The development of propaganda and the politicisation of language has now become something of a modern-day science. What today is described as ‘messaging’ is rife. Careers are built around it and the brightest minds in the country are deployed in ‘manufacturing consent’. As a student, still fearful of the ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’, I began to think that the use of the word ‘defence’ did not accurately describe the act of a country diverting millions and indeed billions of taxpayers pounds or dollars into the production of nuclear weaponry. To me this was an act of aggression.
Similarly the word ‘security’ has been appropriated by many to the extent that we now have, apparently, a security industry. Secure Scotland, as a movement, gives us a real opportunity to recapture the notion of security in the humane sense. It is a precious concept that goes to the heart of our humanity and means so much to people , families and communities that has little to do with the current imagery of the security industry. The world is moving on. As I write today there is an unprecedented conversation unfolding about a “new normal” emerging beyond the current Covid 19 pandemic. Now is our time to truly redefine our most basic of rights. The right to feel secure.