Salisbury couple sees Scottish vote on independence up close

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 19, 2014

A trip to Scotland has landed Jim and Leslie Dunkin of Salisbury on the front lines of history.
As part of Jim’s sabbatical as senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church, the Dunkins scheduled a two-week visit to Scotland, the birthplace of Presbyterianism.
They arrived Saturday in Edinburgh to find the population consumed with the vote on whether Scotland would break its ties with England.
“When we planned this trip … we had no idea we would be sitting here in the midst of this historic moment,” Jim Dunkin said in an email Thursday.
They saw a parade Saturday in Edinburgh supporting a “No” vote and were told people had come from Great Britain, Canada and Australia to support keeping Scotland in the U.K..
“The owner of the B&B where we stayed in Edinburgh said it best: ‘The Yes philosophy is operating out of no fear in the possibilities of an independent Scotland. The No philosophy is operating strictly out of fear in what might happen if the independence occurs.”
Meanwhile, some people were trying to chart a neutral course. The Dunkins worshipped Sunday at St. Giles Cathedral of the Church of Scotland, and “the pastor’s sermon and entire worship was focused on reconciliation, no matter how the vote ends up,” Dunkin said.
When Scottish voters went to the polls Thursday, the Dunkins were in a small town north of Edinburgh, Pitlochry, where residents seemed much more supportive of the “Yes” side.
They shot a photograph of a “Yes” sign in a window across the street from where they were having lunch.
“As one reporter said today, we are witnessing the ‘busiest day of Scotland electoral history.’ Even 16-year-olds are allowed to vote,” Dunkin said. “It is truly an exciting moment to be a Presbyterian pastor in the midst of such history.”
A shopkeeper asked Dunkin if he’d seen the vandalism done to all the “No” signs in town — a regular occurrence during the campaign.
“She, like many others who have spoken to us, said she is simply ready for this moment to be over,” Dunkin said. The campaign has been going on for 18 months.
“It’s amazing to be here at this historic moment when voter response is to be higher than any on record,” Dunkin said. “Everywhere we go people are talking about it!”
The Yes vote was full of risk; news reports in Scotland said the one certainty if the country broke away from England would be “much more energy” throughout the country as it entered the unknown.
“As I said earlier, we never dreamed when we were planning this trip of our lifetime that we would be witnessing history as we are about to experience,” Dunkin said. “I think of the anonymous poem that says ‘living is risky … those who do not risk are chained by certitudes, only those who risk are truly free.’ We will know soon if risk or certitude will win.”