Bishop Stephen Robson, the Bishop of Dunkeld, delivered the Time for Reflection in the Scottish Parliament today (Tuesday 15 December) at 2pm.
In his address he said that cultural change has arguably been Scottish Society’s greatest challenge in the last decade. He called on legislators to “be compassionate about the effects of change” as not everyone can absorb it at the same rate – with some changes having left many people, including the elderly, straggling behind.
The full text of Bishop Robson’s comments are shown below.
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My father was 90 yesterday. He has been badly traumatised by many of the developments in the world around him. Like so many of the elderly, he is ill at ease with modernity; he has had enough of drastic change in his life. So sadly, on his 90th birthday, he said to me: ‘Son, I’m glad to be on the way out.’
But it wasn’t terrorist violence or the threats of war that caused him to feel like this, but rather the endless cultural changes in contemporary society. It brought home to me that my father, and countless others like him, are in culture shock.
Sociologists tell us that ‘Culture shock is the personal disorientation a person feels when experiencing a trauma caused by a clash between unfamiliar world-views’.
In the last decade, cultural change has arguably been Scottish Society’s greatest challenge. And it is not so much social changes as such that are the problem, as rather the increased pace of those changes - that have left many people, and not only the elderly, straggling behind. The result is cultural disorientation.
Furthermore in a highly globalised world when all the world’s social challenges and cultural problems appear as if they are in sprouting in our own back yard we just can’t tackle them all at once; we need time to absorb change, if culture shock is to be avoided.
Each one of us constructs our reality from the building blocks that our parents, families, communities and society provide us with. Of course, there are times when our understanding of reality must be challenged. But please may you as legislators be compassionate about the effects of change; not everyone can absorb it at the same rate. There will always be the wayfarers, the stragglers and the reluctant and the downright stubborn: win minds and hearts first rather than coerce by force of law.
May legislators be mindful that for believers, man-made positive law, such as made in this chamber, can bind bodies, but not souls. For if, perchance, positive law is found to be in serious opposition to God’s Law, or to the natural Law written on human hearts, then God’s laws will always trump man’s. This is the first lesson in religious freedom. ‘What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but to lose his soul?’