On Wednesday 23rd November 2011, the Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks delivered the ‘Time for Reflection’ in the Scottish Parliament. The full text of this piece can be read below. This was part of a two-day trip to Scotland which saw the Chief Rabbi have meetings with a number of Scottish Parliamentarians from across all political parties including Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond.
Full text of the “Time for Reflection”
“Presiding officer, I thank you for the privilege of sharing a reflection with the distinguished members of this great parliament, and to pray that in all your deliberations, you are blessed with wisdom and success.
“I do so with particular warmth mindful of three of the greatest blessings Scotland has conferred on humankind: Adam Smith, the wisest of economists; David Hume, the most lucid of sceptics; and third, that great gift of the spirit, the single malt: as A E Houseman said: “Malt does more than Milton can to justify God’s ways to man.”
“These are tough times, for Scotland, for Europe and for the world. And the turbulence goes deeper than the current financial crisis, the threat of economic recession, and the political turmoil affecting several of the nation states of Europe. The tectonic plates of history itself are shifting.
“They are doing so because of the cumulative, accelerating changes brought about by new information technology, from the web to smartphones to instantaneous global communication, that will transform our world as profoundly as did the invention of printing in the fifteenth century. Our world is changing and we cannot tell where it will lead. We can, though, surely say what we will need to negotiate that change.
“The key word is hope. Hope is often confused with another idea, namely optimism. They sound similar, but they are actually quite different. Optimism is the belief that things will get better. Hope is the belief that, together, we can make the world better. Optimism is a passive virtue, hope an active one. It needs no courage to be an optimist, but it takes a great deal of courage to hope. The great prophet Isaiah was not an optimist, but he was the poet laureate of hope.
“Hope is born when we see ourselves as co-authors of our future; when we work together for the common good and for the sake of our grandchildren not yet born; when we exercise our gifts of freedom and responsibility, twin testimonies to God’s faith in us. It is one of the noblest tasks of politics in an age of change to sustain a vision of hope, knowing that what none of us can do on our own, all of us can do together. And hope alone has the power to defeat the politics of fear.
“May God be with you in all you do. Amen.”