Friday, October 22, 2010

Thought for the Day
Good Morning Scotland
BBC Radio Scotland
Friday, October 22nd, 2010

My wife and I went to see a comedy at the African film festival here in Edinburgh last night. The film in question was not in our mother tongue.

The subtitles helped.

The creative work of communities unlike our own reveals something to us about the hearts of people in the world. They become bigger. So do we.

Ordinary, it’s the News which excerpts for us the lives of people far away. We’re made aware of wars, coups d’etat and conflicts without gleaning much detail about the people in question. Rich cultures are boiled down to a few relevant bits of alarming news.

Rather than growing, these people shrink away.

We find ourselves, like the Pharisee in one of Jesus’ parables in this Sunday’s Gospel reading, being thankful that we are not like other people – war torn and desperately poor.

Our religious traditions don’t always help us see what is outside the bounds of our own persuasion. Religious traditions have, in their worst moments, actively denied the humanity we share with people who are different from us.

We are now more adept at recognizing such active denial. The more passive denial of a common humanity is a little harder to ferret out. The news from abroad is translated into what is relevant for us: the wars, the face-to-face talks, the currency disputes, immigration: these are what someone out there believes we must know in order to be "up to scratch" on current affairs.

But the people remain anonymous.

It takes some work and seizing of opportunities. We can choose and encourage, encounters - based on genuine curiosity, on friendship and the appreciation of another’s culture, language and creativity: film, literature, travel and personal connections.

These require an act of translation – not through the little letters at the bottom of the screen – but in discovering that the tragic and the comic moments of our lives follow a common path.

An audio link is available HERE for a limited time. TFTD begins at 1:21.38 - about halfway along the audio bar.

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