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Language: English / Gàidhlig


Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Meeting of the Parliament 21 November 2017

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Minimum Unit Pricing of Alcohol, Suicide Prevention, Edinburgh Bakers’ Widows’ Fund Bill: Final Stage, Business Motion, Decision Time, Road Safety Week


Time for Reflection

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

Our first item of business today is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader is the Rev Neil Cameron, senior pastor at the Apex church in Peterhead.

The Rev Neil Cameron (Apex Church, Peterhead)

Presiding Officer, thank you for inviting me to address Parliament.

I was born in Edinburgh in February 1962 and adopted 11 months later. Home is in Peterhead in the north-east of Scotland, and I love being part of the culture and community there. As a young boy, I was the only person of colour at school, and my parents were greatly concerned that my colour, rather than character, would identify me. Therefore, my father told me this story, which has been one of the motivators in my life.

There was a man who made a living by selling balloons at a fair. He had all colours of balloons, including white, red and yellow. Whenever business was slow, he would release a helium-filled balloon into the air and, when the children saw it floating high up into the sky, sales would increase. One day, he felt someone tugging at his jacket. He turned around and saw a little black boy, who asked, “If you release a black balloon, will that also fly?” Moved by the boy’s concern, the man replied with empathy, “Son, it is not the colour of the balloon but what is inside that makes it rise.”

The same thing applies to our lives. Our attitude should not be determined by exterior forces, but by the commitment and values that we hold to be true. A positive outlook is more than smiling in the face of problems or simplistically pretending that things are not as bad as they really are. Love, hope and integrity, while not always appearing to win through in the external circumstances of life, build an inner strength that far outshines the alternative.

Recently, I was most put out because of the continuous rain in the north-east of Scotland where I live. I wanted to give my grass its final cut of the season. As I moaned to myself about the weather, I looked out of my window and saw two little boys jumping in the puddles. I could hear their laughter and see their joyful expressions. They had made a choice to make the most of their day.

There is a dimension to hope that is produced not by the expectation of a favourable outcome but rather by the sense of purpose in what we are doing, regardless of the outcome. Being responsible is to realise that our choices are significant—what we do affects who we are and where we will end up. In short, the choice is always up to us.