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Written by Andrew Wilson, founding partner
31 October 2020
This week’s Read of the Street is on the theme of reflection. An activity we all benefit from always. In a country that is full of woe and stress for many reasons, it is something we ought to do.
Our mind digs furrows for our thoughts to travel along. If we are not careful, they become entrenched and it becomes difficult for us to open our mind and therefore our heart to different perspectives. This can be harmful for ourselves if those pathways are self-criticism or doubt. Or, worse even, anger at others.
I read somewhere once that the Sanskrit word for ‘worry’ was the same as that for ‘funeral pyre’, because one burned the dead while the other burned the living.
Nelson Mandela is said to have taken the thought further; “resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill your enemies”.
At the beginning of every session of the Scottish Parliament there is a four minute ‘Time for Reflection’. In my sole term there from 1999 I always enjoyed these moments. The first was delivered by The Reverend Graham Blount who opened thus:
“I will now read some words from Psalms, which express the common ground of Christian and Jewish faith, and from the new hymn book that celebrates the common ground of faith shared by the Scottish Churches:
“If the Lord does not build the house, the work of the builders is useless; if the Lord does not protect the city, the sentries stand guard in vain. In vain you get up earlier, and put off going to bed, sweating to make a living—since he supplies the need of those he loves.”
“Let us build a house where prophets speak, And words are strong and true; Where all God’s children dare to speak, To dream God’s reign anew . . .
He closes with the end of the psalm: ”Let us bring an end to fear and danger, All are welcome, all are welcome in this place.”
Sometimes it is hard to dare to speak, and to be heard, amidst the cacophony of anger that increasingly demeans our public space. We all should reflect on that and what it means. And whether we are of religion or none, as we gaze ahead and ‘guess and fear’ we should luxuriate our minds in the words of that psalm spoken by Reverend Blount 21 years ago, ‘all are welcome in this place”. It would do us all good.
- Attention, daydreamers!
While the pandemic had affected our everyday lives, many feel that it has also our disrupted our ‘inner’ lives and mental wellbeing. There has been talk of lockdown ‘brain fog’ when we are awake, as well as reports of more frequent, vivid, and bizarre dreams when we are asleep. By forging a link between our waking and dream lives, this article aims to explain why.
Read in: The Conversation
2. Just a wee bit homesick
Many Scots have made the move to, or spent time in, London and will therefore relate to this piece from Aasmah Mir. London will always have its appeal but, as Mir illustrates, the allure of home comforts and the prospect of a better quality of life will never be far away. As people seek reassurance in these uncertain times, and remote working becomes more prevalent, perhaps we’ll see a return home from our diaspora or the arrival of new people too. This would be good, because ‘all are welcome in this place’.
Read in The Times
3. Politically homeless
This caught my eye from Gisela Stuart, the one-time Labour MP and pro-Brexit campaigner. I served on a commission with her once and found her impossible not to love despite our differing views on Europe. She is a clever, engaging and warm person. Here she reviews Matt Forde’s new book, Politically Homeless, which features his own reflections on being lost in our political landscape.
Read in: PoliticsHome
4. The quaran-teen generation
These are hard times for all of us, but they are particularly hard for young people. I was only vaguely aware of that before reading this insightful piece by Jessica Grose that looks at the pandemic through the lens of those “millions of individuals with very different backgrounds, personalities and life circumstances”, often too easily referred to as Generation Z. Inequalities abound by gender and geography, but the inheritance we present to the next generations is simply not good enough.
Read in New York Times
5. And the age-old conflict goes on…
In June, for the first time in 45 years, there were serious clashes between India and China’s armies situated in the Himalayan Galwan Valley. However, diplomacy has been enough to resolve the decade-long dispute over their 3,488km-long border before, and is now needed again as China’s growing economic influence pushes India on the roof of the world.
Read in: Le Monde diplomatique
6. The changing sounds of cities
When cities went into lockdown during the pandemic, things got quieter, but they didn’t fall totally silent. Instead, the hooting of the scops owls became more distinct in Thessaloniki, Greece, birds in San Francisco sang in softer and clearer tones and the humming of air conditioners from the towering buildings in New York City replaced the bustling noise of a once-packed Times Square.
In this article, you can listen to a map of recordings from around the world which reveals how cities sound free of noise pollution and how the pandemic has changed the urban soundscape.
Listened to in: Bloomberg
7. The outbreak of love
As the days go by, events across the world merge into an indistinctive mass of news, televised speeches and masked faces. But there is much more to our new daily routines than meets the eye. This hopeful piece from a priest on the Mexico border cheered us as we look forward(ish) to the US presidential election coming next week.
Read in: ICN
And finally: a muse muses
“I am on a lonely road and I am travelling…looking for something, what can it be?”
So begins Joni Mitchell’s 1971 masterpiece Blue, quite possibly my favourite album of all time (it constantly trades places on that list with Lloyd Cole’s Rattlesnakes). Here, Mitchell is interviewed by the director and screenwriter Cameron Crowe, to mark the launch of a new collection of archived material recorded between 1963 and 1967, much of it previously unreleased and unheard. This retrospective release gives Crowe licence to invite Mitchell to reflect on those early years and much else in a long and distinguished career as one of our world’s most celebrated and talented songwriters and musicians.
Read in: The Guardian