Time To Get on With it

I was at the annual Business for Scotland Dinner in Glasgow on Thursday. It was a well-attended gathering of likeminded people from a broad spectrum of business owners, directors and employees, from the business community in Scotland. There was also a fair contingent from the national press and quite a few politicians.

Nicola Sturgeon was the key note speaker and she gave a very forthright and inspiring speech outlining the various issues we have had in the last two years since the independence referendum and more especially the latest disaster which was the Brexit vote, where it would appear, Scotland is to be torn from the EU, very much against its will.

 

The speech contained reference to the GERS figures and indeed made mention that the GERS figures represented the situation where Scotland remained a part of the UK as opposed to being independent, which is absolutely correct but kind of spoiled it by mentioning “Scotland’s Deficit “which the GERS figures definitely do not represent and I have not seen alternative figures which would actually show the true position assuming Scotland to be independent.

 

The speech in general was very good but what it highlighted was why we should be campaigning for another vote on independence right now, and not at some unspecified time in the future when the circumstances could, and very possibly will be completely different from the circumstances which have presented themselves like manna from heaven at the moment. There is of course every possibility that the British government will continue to add to the confusion over Brexit, as there is also every possibility that the Labour party will continue to tear itself apart, but and it is a very big but, there is also the possibility that these two parties might just get their act together and actually start acting like mature political parties.

 

The one thing that concerns me the most is that the Tories will call another referendum on exit from the EU, which would almost certainly have a different outcome from the most recent one and this would sweep the carpet right from under us as far as another referendum goes.

 

I am off the opinion that we have missed the best opportunity we are ever likely to have had presented to us than we had the day after the EU referendum. That was when a campaign for another independence referendum should have been announced and I think history will judge that as one of the worst political decisions ever.

 

We are still on the road to independence but I feel there are unnecessary diversions in place.

 

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Another Carrot

Dear ,dear , I have to shake my head in wonder and frustration. We are (or at least the SNP are ) going to have a conversation. They are going to have a conversation about voting intentions . They are going to ask how you voted the last time there was an independence referendum and they are going to ask how you voted in the EU referendum .

Well I can save them the paper and the sore feet because in the independence referendum ,there were 45% of us voted Yes and there were 55% of us voted no, In the EU referendum there was 62% of us voted to stay and 38% of us voted to leave.

Now there are ,no doubt many people who have changed their minds regarding how they will vote in another independence referendum but they will have changed their mind because of events not because of any initiative that the party of independence have undertaken. Events like the way the Scottish labour party threw their lot in with the Tories during the referendum campaign and lied quite openly to the Scottish electorate , the debacle that was the debate in Westminster on Scotland’s future , there was the in introduction of English votes for English laws , there was the decision to go to war in Syria and of course there was Scotland’s forced exit from the EU.

Now you might have noticed that none of these issues were anything to do with the SNP ,apart from the fact that they were innocent bystanders at most of them. I have been racking my brain over the weekend to find a solidary initiative that the SNP have undertaken since the independence referendum to actually promote independence. Instead we have had a series of carrots dangled at opportune times in the lead up to elections, but we have not had a single rally ,a single event or parade sponsored by the SNP to promote independence. In fact my personal experience has been that here in Dundee ( the yes City ) we have had the local SNP actively engaged in trying to thwart our efforts to actually have independence related events.

There has been a distinct lack of attempts to address the issues we lost the last referendum on such as Pensions . monitory union , borders etc., etc.

So what are we getting now as the new “Independence initiative ” we are getting a conversation, a conversation without answers , because that is what it will be and I give you a possible scenario of one of these conversations.

SNP activist :- Knock knock.

Potential voter :- Hullo.

SNP :- I am from the SNP and we are interested in your opinion’s on a future independence referendum.

Voter:- Good I have been waiting two years on you calling.

SNP :- how did you vote in the independence referendum.

Voter :- I voted no.

SNP :- And why did you vote no

Voter :- Because there was confusion over pensions, monetary union , borders  and so on and so forth

SNP :- And how would you vote now

Voter :- I would vote no.

SNP :- Why

Voter :- Because there is still confusion over pensions, monetary union, borders and so on

SNP :-  Oh, I see , well thank you for having a conversation with me and I will get back to Nicola with your answers .

Voter:- No problem but seeing as you are here ,can you tell me the official position as regards to Pensions, monitory union plan B etc.

SNP :- Er , actually no , Nicola hasn’t actually told me yet .

Voter :- Well can you tell her to stop wasting peoples time by having one way conversations , bye.

This is what will happen with this conversation , the answers to which we have wasted two years in coming up with . The SNP have risen in popularity ( apart from the last scottish election) but they have achieved this ,not through any independence initiative but because they have been the beneficiaries of circumstance, and both an acute sense of disappointment that we lost the last referendum and  a willingness to see the SNP as the best conduit to independence .

The SNP must start giving people what it says on the tin and that is a road map to independence , not endless initiatives ,like the Summer initiative which was made up on the back of a fag packet when the SNP saw the response on social media ,to their disappointing manifesto for the last Scottish election, an election in which they lost 6 seats and facilitated a more than doubling of Tory seats .

Stop dangling carrots , give us a proper road map to independence and stop treating the electorate like fools.

This is OUR country and this is OUR road to independence

 

 

GERS, An unnecessary Millstone

 

Ok we are now in the silly season of the GERS figures ,presented by the Scottish government ( by order of the Westminster Government) in order to show that we are to  wee and indeed to stupid to govern an independent Scotland.

Yes believe it or not that is the sole propose of these statistics brought out once a year purportedly to show an accurate presentation of income and expenditure attributable to Scotland as it would be if we were independent.

Thing is that the initial propose  of GERS was in fact the exact opposite and this, and was in fact designed to  deceive ,rather than inform . The first GERS figures came out in 1992 and was the brain child of Scottish secretary ,Ian Lang ( now residing in the House of Lords ). In a memo leaked at the time he said this “I judge that it is just what is needed at present in our campaign to maintain the initiative and undermine the other parties. This initiative could score against all of them”  

So lets have a look these latest figures , which of course are a year old and many of these figures are of unreliable source as some of them are compiled from block figures from which there seems to be no proper accounting, and for the split ,a population share is used. It might be a coincidence but the population share statistics seem to be from areas such as tourism  where a higher than 8.3% ( population share ) would be expected.

There is only one reliable aspect of GERS figures and that is to show what Scotland’s finances are like as part of the UK. There is no reliable way of using them to reflect what Scotland’s finances would be , as an independent country, therefore to put it simply the GERS figures show quite clearly that ,in every way, Scotland has to do better as an independent country than be a part of a union that is so inefficient that only  by being part of it could lead to a deficit situation almost every year.

There are two sets of figures ,income and expenditure. The income consists of taxes and revenue , payable in Scotland and  collected by and on behalf of Scotland ,mainly by the inland revenue service of the UK.

Expenditure is split into two sections , the first section is expenditure carried out  in Scotland by the Scottish government and the other section is expenditure carried out and apportioned to Scotland by Westminster and this is where the problem lies ,because Westminster would like you to believe that this expenditure would be carried out in Scotland regardless of whether is was independent or not and therein lies the deception, because it patently wouldn’t.

It would take far to long to go into all the ins and outs of the expenditure con, but to bring a few of the more glaring deceptions and save you falling asleep in the process of reading it here are a few things to chew on .

We presently pay the UK three billion pounds for the armed forces . Now two points here . Firstly it is expected that if we decide to have a full blown Army ,Navy and Air force, we could do it for two billion pounds , We also might decide not to have armed forces at all , in which case there would be no expenditure on this item. However  the thing about our present contribution is that very little is actually spent in Scotland as there is a small proportion of our armed forces based in Scotland and so most of this money is spent in England and of course in other places pursuing wars that not many people in Scotland supported. In an independent Scotland the two billion pounds spent on a defence force ,would in the main be spent within Scotland . So in other words an independent Scotland would ,compared to these figures be the beneficiary of almost 3.5 Billion pounds more than at present in connection with the armed forces

A considerable amount of money spent on our behalf is spent on the upkeep of the Westminster parliament and of course the house of lords and apart  from our MP’s salaries none of this is spent in Scotland.

There are projects  which are deemed to be of advantage to Scotland, such as the proposed extension to Heathrow , London cross rail, the greater London sewer extension , the electric rail which will leave London and terminate at Leeds and of course, a few years ago  the Olympic games, which are also proportionally charged on a population basis (8.3%) to Scotland

We also of course pay our share of the huge foreign services budget together with the infrastructure and buildings both in London and all over the World which we would not need as we would enter into embassy sharing arrangements with other countries as do many small countries.

 

Then ,of course there is the national debt, which more accurately should be called the UK debt, because that is what it is, and an independent Scotland would have no legal responsibility for any of it as it was built up by successive incompetent governments ,both Tory and Labour and there is absolutely no reason why we should pay a penny of this. Ireland did not pay any  of this debt when they became independent in the early thirties so why should Scotland ? . Would you expect your kids to take on part of your mortgage when they leave home to start a new life ? Scotland also pays £2.7 Billion in UK debt interest each year

Ok so what about the actual figures and this fictitious “black Hole ”

Current revenues in Scotland                                £53.443 Billion

Current expenditure within Scotland                 £40.363 Billion

Credit Balance                                                             £13.080 Billion

Then comes the dodgy bit

Amounts charged to Scotland

by Westminster for items mentioned above

most of which we would not need in an

independent Scotland                                                   £28.014 Billion

This is where this fictitious black hole appears

And this leaves a theoretical deficit of                   14.934 Billion

which can only happen if Scotland remains part of the UK, in fact this is exactly WHY Scotland remains part of the UK.

Now the Scottish government must know this , so my question is this , why do they continually fudge the truth about this fictitious deficit ? I have heard Nicola Sturgeon actually say in relation to the GERS figures that “many small countries have deficits and an independent Scotland would manage a deficit quite well ”

Now an independent Scotland , in all probability would not have a budgetary deficit ( a deficit is different from debt) or at least a very small and manageable one , but one thing is certain and that is that it would bear absolutely no relation to the one that the UK government would lead you to believe and the Scottish government for some strange reason seem to blithely accept.

The GERS figures are certainly an unnecessary millstone that the SNP willingly seem to cary around their neck , why?

 

The Other Shoe

I post this from my Facebook memories from two years ago as we stepped up a gear in the fight for independence . We campaigned throughout Dundee Fife and Angus with the Dragon for independence which became known as the yes Bus, together with a fantastic team made up from ordinary Dundonians and people from further afield
Today we are on the cusp of another stage along the road to independence as there has never been such an advantages set of circumstances, and these circumstances have been presented to us on a plate once again.
Since the referendum we have had many reasons to leave the UK given to us such as , the realisation that the people of Scotland were deceived and lied to during the campaign. We have had the promised war ships to be built on the Clyde either cancelled or delayed. We saw the promised “as near federalisation” of Gordon Brown simply ignored . We have seen the smith commission delivered by way of a jumble of petty tax powers which do not make us any better off.  We saw our MP’s humiliated during the debate on the Scotland bill. We saw the introduction of the English votes for English laws legislation, which means that we can never have an MP in a Scottish constituency as  a prim minister of the UK. We saw the UK parliament vote to go to war in Syria against the will of the Scottish people . We are now in the process of being dragged out of the EU with all the adverse implications to Scotland ,against our will and just last week we had our noses rubbed in the mud when the UK parliament decided to renew trident ,even although 58 out of the 59 Scottish MP’s voted against it.
When will the SNP wake up and realise that the Scottish people have had enough?
They keep saying that they are waiting for the polls to get to 60% in favour of independence yet do nothing to address the mistakes that were made in the last referendum
Yes there are negotiations going on regarding Scotland’s place in the EU but I get the feeling that they are aimed at ,somehow keeping Scotland in the EU at the same time as keeping us in the UK . At present this scenario seems unlikely but just for one minute think the unthinkable. The UK have messed up big time by voting to leave the UK and arriving at satisfactory trading agreements to satisfy the xenophobic South of England and at the same time achieving reasonable trading arrangements with the EU is going to be very difficult.
So here is a possible scenario, the UK leaves the EU but in some way Scotland stays as a member , at the same time gaining a federal arrangement with the rest of the UK but still remaining part of the UK. This way trading could be carried on by diverting trade through Scotland and for instance English companies setting up head offices in Scotland.
This is ,I believe a possible reason why the SNP have not went for a full on campaign for independence and why the speeches I have heard from Nicola Sturgeon and Angus Robertson have indicated that their efforts at present seem to be concentrated on keeping Scotland in the EU and not leaving the UK, contrary to what the SNP constitution quite clearly states, regarding independence
I could be wrong ,and I hope I am, but in the mean time and in the hope I am wrong ,the yes bus is being prepared to once more get on to the streets of Dundee to once more make this wonderful City the Yes capital of Scotland.
This is a link to a blog I did in March during the SNP conference when Nicola Sturgeon dangled one of her famous carrots to keep the masses quiet, She did it several times between then and just before the Scottish elections when she promised a Summer initiative. It is time to get on with the job at hand because I for one am tired of waiting for the other Jimmy Coo shoe to drop.
This is our road to independence
Our Journey
Facebook 23 July 2014

Our journey

Well today the Costello family finalised the three projects for independence . We had the signs fitted to the double decker and it is now ready for the road to independence . This vehicle has an interesting history, originally built by the Scottish company Denis Alexander of Falkirk for service in Hong Kong and was named the Dragon. It spent some years there before being shipped to Kenya. Both of these countries have gained their independence from the United Kingdom. It remained in Kenya for several years before finding its way to Manchester . We bought this vehicle two years ago very fittingly for a particular contract for The High School of Dundee. This schools predecessor was the school it is believed that William Wallace was educated at in Dundee before slaying the English governors son and having to flee the town. So this vehicle has a history. It is now the dragon that will slay St George . This is indeed “The year of the Dragon”

We intend making this available to any grass roots organisation for independence and we already are working on a traveling coffee morning with Heather McLean form women for independence but my main intention is to invite anyone from the better together campaign to debate the issues and as it has been near impossible to persuade them to send representatives to yes and business for Scotland events. So the message to Better Together is we will debate with you any where any time and if you do not then we will come and get you . You can’t escape the truth.

This is my family’s road to a free Scotland .

This is our Journey.

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Bob Costello's photo.

A Road Map Is Required

 

I wrote the piece below for the Scottish Independent paper last year some 8 Months after the independence referendum . It is an analogy of the situation we were in at that point in time with no attempt to address the issues which lost us the referendum in September 2014. Now some 22 Months after the referendum we are still in exactly the same position.

We have had various sound bites such as “the Scottish people will tell us when they are ready for another referendum “and  ” we will begin a process to address the issues we lost the last referendum on in the Summer”. Well it is the Summer and there is as yet no new initiative to do any such thing.

Yes we have had a referendum on the EU but this was known a long time ago and should have been factored in to the planning , allowing a seamless change of gear into ,at the very least an information update and means by which the grass roots groups could once again get back on the road armed with the official position on things like pensions and the monitory  situation . After the EU referendum it is also obvious that we need to address the misinformation of that campaign as there are a lot of people who actually equate the European Union with the Union we are in as part of the United Kingdom and are under the misapprehension that we are tied to the EU in the same way as we are tied to the UK and that the EU is in some way un democratic.

It is being reported today that Nicola Sturgeon has said that a referendum could happen in the first half of next year , but although she was asked that question, she did not answer in the manner it is being reported . Early next Summer would of course be the ideal time to once more go for it.

Yes there will be negotiations for Scotland  to possibly remain in the EU but it should be only if we should by some chance loose another independence referendum. It looks very much as though the SNP seem to be pulling out all the stops to allow us to remain both in the EU and by default in the UK. That is not the job of the SNP whether they are part of the Scottish government or not.

So there is a lot to do and the SNP had better get their finger out and produce a proper “Road Map to independence” there will never be a better time with both the parties who apposed independence in such a mess.

 

THE NORTH STAR

 

The other night at the end of a very pleasant social get together at a friend’s house I decide to walk home instead of summoning a Taxi. I live in the hills above Dundee, it was a couple of mile walk, under a clear but Moonless sky, which made it very dark at ground level. I was on a good road and knew where I was going but when I looked up at the sky and took in the wonders of the universe it took me back to another time in my life many years ago, when trudging through the Scottish mountains on a military exercise in the early hours of the morning I lost my footing and tumbled down an embankment finishing up in quite a fast flowing stream. Not a lot of fun, you can well imagine, struggling with a heavy pack which had become partially detached from my body.

We always carried dry clothing in a waterproof bag inside the Bergan and so I set about getting myself sorted out and changed. It was mid-Winter and not a comfortable experience. Once changed and some rather wet food down my neck, I went to check my bearing, only to discover I had lost my compass. Not the most desirable position to be in about two in the Morning mid-Winter in the depths of the Scottish Mountains and having already walked for a considerable distance.

A few expletives were expressed before I considered plan B and that was to look up, which cheered me up immensely as a reasonably clear sky with patchy cloud greeted me. I still had my map and knew that my intended direction of travel was in a northerly direction. I found the Plough and took a line through the Easterly two stars to find Polaris or the North star and also took note of the Seven Sisters to the East of Polaris, (always best to have two points of reference) as my next pan B. My next move of course was to consult my Map to make sure I did not come upon any more streams that I was likely to fall into. After several more hours and constant reference to both the North star and the Seven Sisters I eventually  arrived at the final rendezvous point, tired but accomplished, climbed into my sleeping bag and looked up to see the clouds coming in covering both Polaris and the Seven Sisters ,but by that time they had done their job.

 

So this brings my back to the other night, because as I looked up to the Sky, I again saw the Plough and traced it to the North Star (or Polaris) and then East to the Seven sisters. I saw two meteors completing their billion year journey in a flaming crescendo as they entered the Earth’s atmosphere. It took me back light years to that time in the past, but this time I did not have a heavy pack I did not have Mountains to climb, I was not about to fall into any rivers and I was heading home.

I thought about our journey, Scotland’s Journey and couldn’t help but draw parallels. We too, are on a difficult journey, a journey to independence. We fought through the rough terrain last year, the ups and downs of the misinformation the adverse media and on the 18th September we fell down the embankment and into the stream.

We had also lost our compass because the SNP were like rabbits caught in the headlights of a car on a dark road, they had no plan B and although I approached them a couple of days after the referendum to find out what plan B was, I was met with blank look. It must have been a cloudy night, the North Star had evaded them. Some of us wanted to drag ourselves out of the stream find the North Star and continue on our journey. We wanted to continue on a lesser level, the campaign to inform and educate the Scottish people as to the truth behind the fear campaign conducted by Better Together. Well after the hate and disparagement displayed by the Westminster parties in the run up to the Westminster elections, we now know just how better together we really are.

Most people saw the SNP as the conduit to independence and in their tens of thousands they looked to them as being their North Star, but they forgot about the seven Sisters, the back up the extra guide to the North Star. The SNP rode a wave of support and hope which took 56 of them all the way down to Westminster. The SNP are by far the best and most able political party in the country at this time, but they are not perfect and this surge in support for them does not reflect necessarily what they have done, but what the other parties such as Labour and the Tories who purport to be parties of Scotland, have “not” done and that is support the people of Scotland and indeed have deceived and worked against the people of Scotland.

 

One of the things that the SNP did do, which made a difference, was to replace Alex Salmond with Nicola Sturgeon. Now Alex Salmond is probably the most able politician in the UK but he was a liability during the referendum. We constant had people come up to us when we were campaigning on the streets of Dundee and say that they would vote Yes but they did not like “that Man Salmond” He was also responsible for the confusion on Monetary Union, which he was right about, but people couldn’t understand why there was no plan B but instead of simply explaining plan B, C and D on day one after the gang of three stated that there would be no monetary union, he doggedly stated that they would accept it. He was right , yes of course the UK would have had to have accepted monetary union, but the problem was that wee Jeanie from Fintry could not understand that, and was looking for plan B to feel reassured of her future. A similar situation pertained regarding pensions.

Now why regurgitate all of this some eleven Months after the referendum? Well I will tell you why. Because before any future referendum takes place, these questions have to be answered and it will take around a year of canvasing, mail shots, public meetings etc.to get the answers to these questions firmly established in the Scottish people’s psyche, so up till now while the SNP have been riding the wave of what they see is popularity they have wasted eleven months in the journey to independence.

 

Now, you might ask why I was thinking about this whilst walking home at one o’clock in the morning and what did it have to do with the North Star and the Seven Sisters. Well it is all about dragging yourself out of the stream making yourself as comfortable and functional as possible, assessing your assets, making use of them and heading to your final destination without delay, because every new journey begins with the first step.

 

Now if you believe in Astrology, this is the Age of the Goddess. The North Celestial Pole now resides in the constellation Ursa Minor near the star Polaris. Many legends and myths associated with the star Polaris and Ursa Minor are about women and spiritual principles. This great age could be referred to as the Age of Polaris, the Age of Ursa Minor, the Age of the Little Bear, the Age of Women

Sound familiar? Well there are many people who would look upon Nicola Sturgeon as the saviour and perhaps look upon this as being the age of Women. Could she be the North Star, our beacon in troubled times. Well perhaps. She has at least taken away one of the main obstacles we faced during the campaign, Alex Salmond.

She has generated huge worldwide interest in a possible return match in the fight for independence and she had an enormous amount of support in Scotland. She has stated quite a number of times that there will be a referendum when the people of Scotland wish there to be one.

But, and it is a big but. She has not in any way laid out the clear circumstances for deciding when and how the people of Scotland’s intentions will be assessed and indeed heard. The expectation management of the SNP is non-existent as is their forward strategy abilities.

There is great confusion regarding whether there will be any debate on whether a referendum or road to a referendum will be included in the agenda for discussion at the party conference in Aberdeen later in the year.

 

Well Nicola if you aspire to be the goddess Polaris , our North Star, you need to guide, you need to inspire, you need to be there when we drag ourselves out of the stream and are looking for plan B and we need a rout to march down for this is our journey and we will complete it with or without any personalities and if the North Star becomes obscure because of cloud, we will look to the Seven Sisters.

We have lost our compass and are looking for the North Star to continue our journey

The Seven Sisters

seven sisters

 

 

A lesson too late for the learning?

I wrote the piece below  on the 3rd of May 2011 the day after Osama Ben Laden was executed and after President Obama said that the World was a safer place because of the killing of Osama Ben Laden.
I said that as from yesterday the World was definitely not a safer place .
Who was right?
 
In the light of the continuing atrocities with the attack  yesterday in Nice being only the latest incident.  Just how long will it take for us to wake up and realise that you dont defeat terrorism by creating even more terrorists, and you do that by invading other peoples countries, more especially by supporting Israel in their genocidal policies against the Palestinian people.
 
In reality, and because of the entrenched and illogical support by the United Kingdom for Israel, ( our new prim minister Theresa May is part of the organisation “Friends Of Israel” )  the only way ,we here in Scotland can separate ourselves from this never ending cycle of violence is to be responsable for our own destiny and therefore foreign policy. The events of yesterday with the attack in Nice, combined with the appointment of a clown as foreign Secretary , makes it even more imperative that we go for another referendum on independence, because , make absolutely no mistake, Scotland , because of our association with the UK and their foreign policy are therefore a target for terrorist attacks.
A referendum on independence absolutely must be a priority of the Scottish government and the SNP.
 
No prevarication ,no doubt. Independence ,plain and simple.    
 
 
 
Bob Costello
 
3 May 2011 at 19:31 ·
 
Osama Ben Laden
 
So The World is now rid of a terrorist mastermind, so ask yourselves . What is his legacy. He was probably responsible for some of the worst outrages in modern times but unfortunately we will never know for sure, because he was never brought to justice. He was in fact summarily executed in an act of retribution or revenge without the benefit or otherwise of a judge or jury. Both of which are part of the basis of the western Worlds ideals of justice.
 
The rhetoric of our leaders saddened me. There was no talk of this most wanted terrorist being “brought to justice” only of killing him. Some of the information received leading to his whereabouts was procured by the application of “enhanced interrogation techniques”. For the avoidance of doubt this means “torture”.
 
So where does this leave us . “Us” being, as we see it some of the most advanced societies on this planet. Our leaders tell us that as of yesterday ” the World is a safer place” and at the same time warn travellers and Embassies to be on the look out for attacks. Take my word for it, as of yesterday the World is a more dangerous place!!
 
We are no doubt well rid of a man who through deft application of deliberate misinterpretation of the Islamic religion has caused untold misery, but our method of ridding the World of him has, I am afraid allowed him a victory in as much as he has allowed us to be dragged back in time to the law of the Jungle.
In our quest for a fairer and just society we have a long road to travel, some of our nations are farther along that road than others but the events of yesterday have left some of us in a lay by on that road. Lets hope we can once more continue on that journey and please do not let the terrorist or the religious zealot divert us from that path.