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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid) 14 September 2021

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Topical Question Time, Covid-19, Urgent Question, Health and Social Care, Parliamentary Bureau Motion, Decision Time, Tokyo Paralympics


Time for Reflection

Good afternoon. I remind members that social distancing measures are in place in the chamber and across the Holyrood campus. I ask members to take care to observe the measures, including when entering and exiting the chamber. Please use the aisles and walkways only to access your seats and when moving around the chamber.

The first item of business is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader is Linda Britton, a celebrant with the Humanist Society Scotland.

Thank you for inviting me to speak at time for reflection. We should all know what that means, but do we take time to reflect? Some of us have busy lives and we can get caught up in what we feel is important without thinking that what we do and say has an effect on others.

As a humanist, I try to treat people as I expect them to treat me and to think before I act or speak. Just recently, I had to make a decision that I thought might upset someone. So, why did I do it, and, importantly, how? I engaged with the person, asked them to talk to me about their reasons, then asked them to listen to mine. We had a middle ground, both of us felt listened to and that our beliefs were respected. I was able to conduct a ceremony for a person who did not have a faith and their next of kin was able to lead the mourners in prayer after the ceremony closed. That was important to them. It was the right thing to do and it benefited everyone.

There is much debate in this chamber—rightly so. Our actions and words cause reaction in others. When we think before we speak, encourage discussion, try to walk in another’s shoes, we become human beings who care; as the people who have been elected to make decisions, it is important that that is foremost in your minds.

If nothing else, the pandemic has shown us what is important. Look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: everyone needs a place to sleep, food to eat and a feeling of safety. As a human being, it is my responsibility—as it is yours—to work together to ensure that no one is left without those basic needs.

John Donne wrote that

“No man is an island”.

The pandemic has shown us that that is true, and, with the 26th United Nations climate change conference of the parties—COP26—taking place soon in Scotland, we can make changes that benefit all living creatures.

We have lived through the worst year and a half that most of us can remember and I hope that you have taken heart from the many people who have worked throughout without a thought for themselves. We applaud them, but we can do better. We can show our gratitude by changing our behaviour or, as I mentioned at the beginning, by reflecting on what we do and how we do it.

Thank you for listening, it has been a privilege to speak to you.