“They don’t use electricity” – complaint

If anyone else wishes to complain to The Independent/Associated Press/ whoever about the “They don’t use electricity’ article” (below), please send me a copy. Ta. I

The Editor
The Independent

Dear Editor,

I write to comment on your article of 19th July, “Scottish island’s sacred
Sunday under threat”, concerning the start-up of the Sunday sailings on the
ferry route between Ullapool and Stornoway, Isle of Lewis.

Having lived for several years in the isles of Lewis and Harris I
experienced the peace of ‘Sabbath’ Sundays, and considered that as a
non-churchgoing incomer it was appropriate that I should fit in and do as
the locals did.  The quiet Sundays are as much a cultural aspect of Lewis
and Harris as a religious observance.  Many local island people don’t
regularly attend church, but still keep quiet Sundays to respect the
islands’ tradition and to be in accord with their neighbours.

These days all the Hebridean islands have increasing numbers of incomers,
who move to the islands in an attempt to escape their urban, commercial
world. The local islanders, Sabbatarians or not, are coming under increasing
pressure to change their ways; ironically, to become more like the very
world which incomers thought they were trying to escape.  If you want a pint
of milk on Sunday, why not think ahead and buy it on Saturday afternoon ?
The islands were ever so.

A few points; the great majority of Christians in Lewis and Harris are not
religious fundamentalists or fanatics, and very few literally adhere to the
Bible throughout their daily lives. There certainly is no banning of use of
electricity on Sundays! People prepare their meals ahead, for convenience of
having all ready for Sunday.  Indeed, islanders don’t play sport, shop or
hang out their laundry.  Whether a task is ‘necessary or merciful’ has been
the criteria for Sunday activities.  Local people have said that the quiet
Sundays were, as well as set aside for religious observance, also a
tradition born of practical use. The crofting life prevalent in these
islands was (and is) such physically hard work, in all weathers and often
for a subsistence living, that if there hadn’t been a community rest day the
people would have exhausted themselves into an early grave.

Also, it would have been preferable if your esteemed publication had engaged
a Scottish island journalist to report on the start of Stornoway’s Sunday
ferry sailing, rather than using an AP reporter who seems to have just
‘called a few people’ for comment then written what was thought to be a
dramatic article and sent it around the world’s press.  While any conflict
between traditional ways of life and modern commercial developments will
always be bitter and intractable and those closely concerned will give angry
comments, using a reporter who appears to have little local knowledge did
not do justice to the background of the published article.

With regards,

Susan Campbell
‘Ileach’ Community Newspaper Editorial Team
‘The Oban Times’ Community News reporter
Kilchoman, Bruichladdich
Isle of Islay
Argyll  PA49 7UT

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