Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Thought for the Day
Good Morning Scotland
BBC Radio Scotland
Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

The face has changed. A thinner and paler Gilad Shalit was hustled out of a van yesterday morning after five years of captivity. The well-known picture of the younger and heartier boy is now clearly out of date.

One exchanged for a great many: A fair deal or not? Were questions of justice and security weighed against the safety of an individual?

These negotiations will be debated in the weeks to come.

What does the individual amount to anyway in the grand scheme of things?

Important decisions are often made about crowds. While we are individuals, we are also numbers of interest to statisticians. We are members of communities in political disputes over land and resources, requiring medical services or schools or housing or sewers. The big picture is always bigger than you are. Where are you, though, in that big picture?

As individuals we get lost in crowds.

We get lost unless there’s somebody to pay attention. It’s attention which ensures the needs of individuals – and memory. To our husbands and wives and our families, we are individual souls. They remember us when others forget us.

One of the earliest pieces of Christian iconography was that of the shepherd with a single sheep on his back. You can see it inscribed in the catacombs in Rome as you can see it in modern stained glass. It wasn’t a Christian invention but it rang a bell with the early church because of Jesus’ parable about the good shepherd who will leave the 99 sheep in order to search out the one who is lost.

It is the personal and relational aspects of friendship and our participation in communities which we yearn for – linked to the belief that at the heart of the universe is a voice directed to us – as individuals - to whom somebody says:

"I know you. I've known you for years. Though others may forget - I will not forget you.”

Audio is available for a limited time HERE. TFTD begins at 1:24.00 - about halfway along the audio bar.