The world from a highlands perspective

Opinion: Columns

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By John Hubbuch

Travel is one way to escape the self-imposed prison of recency bias, group think and bias re-enforcement. So Marsha and I went to Scotland. I also got to drink Scotch whiskey, yet another way to escape.

Now Scotland has been around for a thousand years, so there is an array of historical sites to visit. By way of summary, Scottish history is a tale of murder and mayhem. The various clans fight each other; the Catholics fight the Protestants; and the Scottish fight the English. There are plenty of betrayals and the murders of innocent women and children. The castles and forts get leveled, rebuilt and leveled again. 

The good old days.

I spent quite a bit of time wandering around cemeteries. I'm an early riser, so often I'm the only person in the cemetery. Frequently it was dark and raining. My mind turned toward the universal imperative of death. The monuments marking the graves range from the broken and barely legible to the celebratory and elaborate, but in the ultimate sense all who reside therein are equal. No one remembers these men and women - the subsistence farmer and the wealthy merchant share a quiet anonymity.

I was reminded of just how important religion was to our ancestors. In Edinburgh, Inverness and Glasgow the largest structures are the cathedrals. These massive resplendent houses of worship dominate the landscape today, but not the lives of most of the good citizens. There was a time when God mattered to everyone. Today faith has been eroded by science and secularism. Today the churches have been replaced by office towers and shopping malls. We will await the judgment of history to determine if this was good or bad. A silent prayer for faith departed.

Our tour guide on the Isle of Skye was David MacDonald, a proud member of the clan. He gave tours to earn money so that he could spend part of the year in Nashville to pursue a career in the music business. I liked him a lot, and thought about joining the MacDonald clan, but according to David you have to have MacDonald blood in your veins. Makes sense. So I guess I will have to be content as a MacDonald wannabe. Probably just as well. I don't think I would look very good in a kilt.

After 10 days it was time to come home. I missed my quotidian Oak Park life, although my time away was certainly a welcome respite from the cacophony of the daily Trump shenanigans.

These Scottish travels were a reminder that we are on this mortal coil for only a very short time. We need to spend it wisely.

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