Thought For The Day – Passing Places – 28th Apr 2017

Do you, like me, find the news all a bit stressful at the moment? Whether it’s Trump or Brexit or snap General Elections, everyone seems to be irritated with each other. So it was interesting to hear a fresh voice this week.

It was Tuesday, in Vancouver, the second day of the annual week-long TED conference. TED is a global movement devoted to spreading ideas. It does this in the form of powerful 18-minute TED talks, which have been watched by millions of people, billions of times, online. The day started in a fairly predictable way – lots of speakers on robotics; some stuff on the human response to AI; and a session in Spanish. Then, all of a sudden, to give the next TED talk, the Pope appeared. Now that’s certainly one way to liven up a conference hall!

Admittedly envy is one of the 7 Deadly Sins, but I must confess to noticing that his talk has already got a lot more views than mine has, possibly because wearing a tiara in your talk isn’t quite as serious as wearing a white zucchetto. But his TED talk makes history. It’s the first time the Pope has addressed an international conference, and he’s already made headlines all over the world.

In it, the Pope talks about the importance of solidarity, hope, and tenderness. Let’s talk about tenderness, because maybe the Scottish road system could help.

I noticed recently that I was doing a lot more smiling and waving than I normally do. Why? Because of all those Passing Places! That’s probably why Highlanders are so famously friendly, because it’s such a habit to smile and wave as you drive around. And it made me think about the Pope, and about tenderness. “We all need each other” he says in his TED talk. Developing the conference theme of ‘The Future of You’, he says: “the future is made of yous, it’s made of encounters, because life flows through our relations with others.”

What passing places are there in your day? The school gate, the ticket office; the door of the lift; the lunch queue; the office corridor, the motorway? All opportunities for tenderness, perhaps. As the Pope says, “life is not time merely passing by, life is about interactions.”

Other Thoughts

I have been delivering “Thought For The Day” pieces on BBC Radio Scotland since November 2016. By kind permission these pieces are reproduced in blog posts here on my website. To find my other pieces click here go to my Thought For The Day index page.

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