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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Meeting of the Parliament 19 February 2019

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Brexit (Response to European Union Exit Vote in Westminster), Scottish Rate Resolution, Social Security Committee Announcement, Decision Time, St Rollox Railway Works


Time for Reflection

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

Good afternoon. We begin business today with time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader is Ms Vanessa Smith, celebrant of the Humanist Society Scotland in Aberdeen.

Ms Vanessa Smith (Humanist Society Scotland)

Good afternoon. It is lovely to be invited to be here with you by virtue of the work that I do as a humanist celebrant with the Humanist Society Scotland.

We are living through times of great change—the stuff of future history podcasts—and for most of us, change is a challenge. So I want to talk hope this afternoon and to spend the next few minutes sharing some thoughts with you about the things in life that bring us together, rather than those that might divide us.

Death. I might as well jump in at the deep end. I spend a lot of time with the newly bereaved and those at the very end of their lives, and it can be as tough as you imagine it to be. However, importantly, it can also be uplifting, engrossing, and funny—often really funny—with the full range of emotions and the essence of what it is to be human. I have had some of the most wonderful, stimulating and thought-provoking conversations with those who are in their last few days or hours of life and, when you listen carefully, you hear so much hope.

Love. I often say that I am humbled when young people decide to marry; there is very rarely anything or anyone compelling them to do so these days, so they are making a decision and a commitment based on investment in a shared future. If that does not give us all hope, I do not know what does. As a side note, I am so proud of the way this country acknowledges and affirms one love; there is plenty of room for us all.

Our young people. I wanted to end on this because, when I am invited into schools to speak to pupils about humanism, I never fail to be impressed by how switched on and interesting they are. Young people face challenges just growing up that the vast majority of us in this room have never had to face, yet they are open, eager and engaged—they also put you through your paces, quite rightly. There is so much hope in the next generation, and we should be very proud of our young people. I am excited to see how they are going to shape our future communities.

So, death, love and the future inform and drive our efforts today, and all three evidence that hope should always be our inspiration. Thank you.

The Presiding Officer

I inform members and people who are in the gallery that there will be a short suspension for a few minutes while we sort out the card and tannoy system.

14:04 Meeting suspended.  14:19 On resuming—