Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ken Burns' "The National Parks - America's Best Idea

I have always been enchanted by our National Parks but I never knew much of the history. A few months ago I went to a screening and lecture by Kens Burns as he began promoting this documentary. If you do not know him, he also did the "Jazz" series, the "Baseball" series and "Quakers" sereis, all on PBS. Being a history buff and being fascinated by the parks, this is a great medium for me. I am ridiculously excited to watch this tonight. The series willb e broken up into regions and explores the history of how the parks came to be, the stories of how they grew, stories from those who lives near or in the parks, stories from the rangers who watched that land. What's not to be excited about!?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Warriors and Wordsmiths of Freedom: the Birth and Growth of Democracy
Linda MacDonald-Lewis 07/20/2009 05:56 AM

The following is an article by the author including excerpts from the above book released this month world-wide available soon on Panalba.

‘It's a woman who wears the mantle of being the progenitor of the Scots people. Scota was her name...'

In the far reaches of Scotland's history... before the Picts and the Scots became one, before Christianity or feudalism set in ...there was a theme of equality, rights, freedom, and choice.
Skatha (Scota) taught the young men of Ireland, including Cuchulain, the skills of being a warrior, from the Isle of Skye. As for the Picts, the other cultural people who inhabited Scotland's shores, their system of inheritance and of rule is believed to have been passed through the line of women. Within this Scots/Pictish culture, many stories have been passed down of female warriors, leaders and advisers.

There never seemed to be a question of "man or woman" in this early history. Ability outranked gender. Equality, choice and consideration of others rights, in the race and social structure, was the result. This basic foundation of equality was a difference that would go on to influence history for many centuries to come.

Many, to this very day, will say, ‘the feudal system of rule reigned over the Middle Ages throughout the Western world.' But in Scotland, the clan systems that descended from the Celtic and Pictish tribes still held the power. Within this realm, the chiefs were not ‘rulers' in the feudal sense, but were considered to be the ‘first among equals'. There was a bloodline connection between the chieftain/chieftainess and the people they viewed as their clan. Not so in the feudal world, where through treachery or war the throne could and often did fall into the hands of a foreign power.

Those same clans were once again to rise up as late as the 1600s and 1700s, to bring their ‘chosen king' back to the throne. They all carried within them, in their hearts and their spirits, that long-held belief in equality and the rights that each person is given at birth.'
The Jacobite Rising is often held out as being fueled by the struggle of Protestant vs. Catholic, which can be misleading. On further study we see many Jacobites were in fact Protestant and Episcopal not struggling to bring back their King (James Stuart) because he was Catholic, but because he was the choice of the people, the ‘chosen king', ...their "rightful king". (Such was the circumstance of those souls the MacIains, on that fateful morning 13 February 1692, known as the Massacre of Glencoe.)
And these Jacobites were not just in Scotland, but throughout Ireland and England as well.
When the Jacobite Rebellion failed at Culloden Moor, many say, this defeat brought about "an end of the Scottish Clans and their way of life". Still, many left Scotland's shores for the Colonies of North America, seeking the right to live in peace and freedom. (Hugh Mercer, was at Culloden with Bonnie Prince Charlie's army and later died on the battlefield in the fight for Independence, at the Battle of Princeton. ). The reasons for fighting on both shores were much the same, ...the ideals surrounding rights of man.

These ideals of basic rights for all go back through millennia; the right to be involved in the choice of leadership, the code of ethics contained within the code of Highland hospitality, and the general way of life. And these same ideals, held fast by the Scots, have helped to deliver up to us, our freedom.
The freedom that we take for granted today was given to us by the sacrifice and endurance of those that came before. This freedom, and the democracy that grew from it, was over 500 years in the making.

This book will take you from the days of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce during the Wars of Independence in Scotland, to the days of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and their fight for freedom in America during the Revolutionary War. Follow the thread from Scotland to America, and come to understand how important one ended up being to the other.
We will see how and why a ‘wordsmith' (writer) in Arbroath, Scotland, created a document in 1320... and the influence it had 450 years later, and thousands of miles away, on a new people, in a new land.'

The similarity between these two documents: The Declaration of Arbroath and the Declaration of Independence did not happen by chance. Both reflect the basic beliefs the race of Scots carried with them no matter where they travelled. These beliefs, held fast by the Scots people, influenced all those that came in contact with them, like the later "Wordsmiths of Freedom"...George Buchanan, John Locke, and Thomas Paine. And, can be also be seen in the satement made by George Washington below, as compared to the most famous quote from the Declaration of Arbroath.
For so long as a hundred of us remain alive,we will never submit ourselves to English dominion.We fight not for glory nor riches nor honours;but only and alone we fight for freedom,which no good man gives up,but with his life.

If all else fails, I will retreat up the valley of Virginia, plant my flag on the Blue Ridge, rally around the Scotch-Irish of that region and make my last stand for liberty amongst a people who will never submit to British tyranny whilst there is a man left to draw a trigger...

The book launch for 'Warriors and Wordsmiths' will be held at 11am, Wednesday 29 July at the Smith Art Gallery and Museum, Dumbarton Road, Stirling FK8 2RQ, please RSVP to 01786 471917 or to .
LINDA MACDONALD-LEWIS lives mostly in Seaside, Oregon and has dedicated herself to teaching America about Scotland. She visits Scotland frequently, and in 2005 she represented the USA at a conference on William Wallace at the Smith Art Gallery and Museum, Stirling, Scotland.
Linda is a Life Member of the Clan Donald Lands Trust in Scotland and is currently the Convener for the Clan Donald-USA, Pacific Northwest Region. She often performs at Highland Games and gatherings as a poet, historian and storyteller.