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Language: English / Gàidhlig

Chamber and committees

Meeting of the Parliament

Meeting date: Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Trade (Australia and New Zealand) Bill: United Kingdom Legislation, Net Zero: Local Government and Cross-sectoral Partners, Business Motions, Parliamentary Bureau Motion, Decision Time, International Long Covid Day


Time for Reflection

The first item of business is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader today is the Rev Father Gregory Umunna, parish priest at St Stephen’s church, Blairgowrie.

The Rev Father Gregory Umunna (St Stephen’s Church, Blairgowrie)

Presiding Officer, the Rt Hon Alison Johnstone, and honourable members of the Scottish Parliament, many thanks for inviting me to share a reflection with you today.

As you gather here to discern, debate and find solutions to the countless issues of our time, permit me to share with you a principle of engagement that recommends as its maxim “doing good better”. That principle makes clear that merely doing good is no longer enough. We should always aim to do good better.

I choose to ground that principle on three metaphors that Jesus used to refer to those called to be gatekeepers of the community that the evangelist Matthew addressed in Matthew, chapter 5, verses 13 to 16. He wrote:

“You are the salt of the earth ... You are the light of the world ... You are that city built on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.”

Permit me to use those metaphors to address you parliamentarians, because, for me, you are the gatekeepers of our society. You are the salt of the earth; you are the light of the world; you are that city built on a hilltop.

Essentially, salt purifies, seasons and preserves, to enhance the taste of precious valuables and to preserve flourishing human values for generations as yet unborn. Equally, light was the first thing that God created, when he separated it from darkness. We stumble and fall in the darkness, but we see our paths clearly in the light.

The hope is that the gatekeepers of our society will continue to bear the light, doing good better by reducing poverty, unemployment and homelessness here at home and by reducing tyranny and oppression abroad. Those shortcomings remind us that, whenever there is a lack of the right leadership, the people suffer.

Finally, honourable members, you are that city on the hilltop of life and in full view of public eyes. So, let your light and your flourishing human values continue shining forth from that hilltop.

I close my reflection by invoking the Swedish diplomat Dag Hammarskjöld, who served as the second secretary general of the United Nations, from 1953 to 1961, who once said:

“The longest journey is the journey inwards.”

This man travelled worldwide but did not reach his journey’s end. In his inward exploration, he said that the journey inward is a never-ending journey. That view typifies the mission of each member of this honourable chamber as you seek to grapple with the ever-changing, multifaceted and complex issues of our postmodern society.