Moderator calls for unity following referendum
Published on 22 September, 2014
The Moderator of the General Assembly is calling for unity among the Scottish people following the record 84.6% turnout in the referendum vote.
The Rt Rev John Chalmers hopes people will come together to celebrate the success of the democratic process. In the coming days, he is calling on Scots to pledge to work with one another and move the discussion on from "US and "THEM" to only "US".
Speaking after the result of the poll was announced with 55% voting against Scottish independence, the Moderator said: "Today I particularly care about those who feel as if they are on the wrong side of this outcome.
"So, I expect those on the winning side to go out of their way to avoid triumphalism and to be inclusive in their plans for Scotland's future, and to take the time to assure those who are anxious, disappointed and down that they understand how they must feel. Today we must begin to stop thinking in terms of them and us - only us
"Let's take heart from the fact that the people of Scotland have shown in overwhelming numbers they are ready to discuss their future aspirations. Let's keep it that way and not hand the game back to the professional politicians to do it all for us."
Mr Chalmers delivered the following message of inclusivity on Radio 4's Thought for the Day this morning. It is a theme which he will expand upon in his sermon to the special public service of unity at St Giles' Cathedral on Sunday morning, which will be attended by Scotland's political leaders from both sides of the campaigns.
Today marks an important moment in the life of a nation; but this morning it is also about individuals waking up with contrasting feelings: some will be elated and some will be desperately disappointed.
Today's result is a triumph for some and a defeat for others, and it will take a force of magnanimity and graciousness to find a way of harnessing the energy of opposing sides and bringing it to bear on a shared future.
There is, however, an extraordinary opportunity here; for, when the parties to any dispute decide that it's time to move on; and particularly when those who have been opponents decide to pool their resources and work together - then something extremely powerful can happen.
In the Bible there is a potent story about twin boys named Jacob and Esau; early in the story the first born, Esau, sells his birth-right to Jacob for some bread and soup and then some years later Jacob snatches his father's blessing from under his brother's nose. When Esau finds out he is described as "seething with anger against his brother". But Jacob is warned by his mother that Esau is out for vengeance, and so he flees. These two brothers begin a life of distant estrangement.
There is little in the story that follows to prepare you for what happens next; for while we may be familiar with the parting of the ways of Jacob and Esau, we are less familiar with the story of their reconciliation.
Fate was to bring the two of them back together. Now, in anticipation of their meeting Jacob was deeply fearful; but when the meeting with Esau actually took place, Jacob discovers a magnanimity which allows difference to be set aside and a grace that puts vengeance away; remarkably - Esau runs to meet him, throws his arms around his neck and they weep.
And then - Esau says, 'Let us journey on our way, and I will go alongside you".
There may be very little in the story of this campaign to prepare us for the idea that opponents might now agree to travel alongside one another, but I sincerely believe that today fellow Scots to fellow Scots will offer such grace to one another.
The untold energy of people who love Scotland and care about its future has been used on both sides of this debate. Neither side promised 'utopia' or 'unity' but now that it has been settled we have to find a way of harnessing all that energy. And, make no mistake about it, such magnanimity will release enormous creativity. And Scotland's future will be safe.