Good afternoon. The first item of business is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader today is Marie Cooke, who is co-ordinator of the youth service of the Roman Catholic diocese of Aberdeen and is based at the youth office in Inverness.
Marie Cooke (Aberdeen Diocesan Youth Service):
The Scottish Parliament is an ideal place to reflect on how we can inspire young people with a renewed sense of joyful hopefulness. In our post-modern world, we consider humanity as a global community and, in Scotland, we experience that on a smaller scale in our multicultural, multifaith society, which is full of diversity and richness. It is a source of joy to discover that, whatever their ethnic origin, young people who live in Scotland are proud to be Scottish. A positive aspect for the future is their sense of wanting to belong to a community in which every person is seen as vital to the building of a just and peaceful society.
We are all people of hope—if we were not, we would not be here. We were young, idealistic and enthusiastic people. Now, we are just older and—I hope—wiser in the light of our life experiences. Adults who recognised our potential empowered us to become agents of change. Now is the time to pass on that trust.
Young people are a vital part of Scotland's present as well as its future. They are as enthusiastic, vulnerable, idealistic and frightened by the unknown as any previous generation was. However, unlike earlier generations, they wait for an invitation to get involved in issues that concern them. The adult world needs to respond to ensure that they feel part of a solution instead of a cause of the problem.
Using the see, judge and act toolkit of social justice, we can empower young people to inform themselves widely, reflect critically on the information that they receive and then do something about things for the good of the community as well as themselves.
Young people remind us that we live not in a change of era but in an era of changes, and not with crisis but with potential. This is a new day and another opportunity, and the possibilities to
Oscar Romero encapsulated a vision of our work for young people when he said:
"This is what we are about: We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capability. We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realising that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well."
May your work be blessed and made fruitful in the lives of the young people of Scotland.