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Language: English / Gàidhlig


Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Meeting of the Parliament 08 October 2019

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Topical Question Time, No-deal Preparations, National Islands Plan, Supporting Innovation, Decision Time, Institute of Occupational Medicine 50th Anniversary, Correction


Time for Reflection

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

Good afternoon. Our first item of business today is time for reflection, for which our leader is the Rev Gordon Kennedy, who is the minister at Craiglockhart parish church, Edinburgh.

The Rev Gordon Kennedy (Craiglockhart Parish Church, Edinburgh)

Presiding Officer and members of the Scottish Parliament, thank you for this opportunity to share this time for reflection with you.

Words are important. Benjamin Franklin spoke of changing the world with the 26 lead soldiers of his typewriter. In my faith tradition, we believe that God created everything that there is—all that is seen and unseen—with words. We believe that God came among us as the word made flesh.

At best, we use words to express compassion and care, to effect positive change in the world, and to reveal something of ourselves that, without words, would remain hidden. However, we too often use words to demean and diminish, to obscure and confuse, and to wound and harm. We live in a world that is overwhelmed by noise. We are drowning in discourse. Words are spoken cheaply and thoughtlessly and, as they multiply, they mutilate language and deafen our ears to what should be precious words. Words are spoken insistently and proudly and assert their value but, without any foundation, they become fake words.

When we reduce our words to the seven-word soundbite—the advertising slogan—we demean those who we hope will listen to our words. Do we really think that the great issues of life—justice and mercy; love and grace; hunger and consumption—can be adequately expressed in a headline?

Our words should be gifts. Words of promise should be commitments that we at least intend to fulfil. Words of hope should be backed up with deeds of courage to give life to the hope that we have expressed. Words of community should be kind, generous and patient. Words of challenge should, of course, be passionate without being rude or disrespectful.

The business of this hall represents the lives of the people beyond these walls. However, within these walls, your business is conducted with words. What kind of words will the people of Scotland and beyond hear today? The political challenges that you address—issues that affect the wellbeing of communities and the survival of our environment—are of such magnitude that a better quality of words and a more respectful sharing of words are required of us all. May your words be gifts of beauty and hope in our world today.

Thank you.