Tim Maguire delivers 5th Humanist Time for Reflection in Scottish Parliament

Tim Maguire, Humanist Society Scotland Registered Celebrant became the 5th Humanist to deliver a Time for Reflection at the Scottish Parliament today.
Tim reminded MSPs that it was the Scottish Enlightenment that inspired the writers of the American Declaration of Independence, and suggested that they too might embrace a humanist approach to ‘the pursuit of happiness’.

Commenting on this, HSS Chief Executive Gordon MacRae said:
“It’s fantastic to have Tim speaking at the Scottish Parliament. His message is one of striving for happiness and human fulfilment, something which should resonate with MSPs.
“At its best politics is the search for a shared common weal, and humanists have a key part to play in that.
“It is of course disappointing that this is only the 5th Humanist voice in Time for Reflection since 1999, and that religious faith groups continue to be vastly over-represented.”

You can see the full video here:

Presiding Officer, thank you for inviting me to speak today.
I hope you would agree that politicians should always strive to increase the happiness of the people they represent.
Happiness is a nebulous concept but there are those who insist they know how to measure it, and when the UN compiled its latest World Happiness Report, Scotland – as part of the UK – didn’t even make it into the Top Twenty.
Would Scotland be happier if it were in a different political landscape? You may say so: I couldn’t possibly comment.
Our city, however, is punching about its weight in the happiness stakes. Two years ago, a Cadbury’s survey found that Edinburgh was the happiest city in the UK, and only last month, Condé Nast Traveller called it one of the ten friendliest cities in the world.
Something has clearly changed.
For generations, life was a vale of tears, and earthly happiness, a snare and a delusion. Happiness might be your reward in the next life, but only if you behaved well in this.
In 1776, Thomas Jefferson – inspired by the writings of the Enlightenment philosophers Francis Hutcheson and David Hume – enshrined ‘the pursuit of happiness’ in the American Declaration of Independence. We’ve since come to regard happiness as a universal human right, but – and it pains me to say this – we Scots weren’t the first to conceive this radical idea.
Almost forty years earlier, the Legal Code of the tiny Himalayan Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan decreed, “if the Government cannot create happiness for its people, there is no purpose for the Government to exist”. Bhutan remains one of the world’s poorest states, but for forty years it’s inspired governments everywhere to look beyond GDP as a measure of a nation’s health.
Bhutan was the first country to measure Gross National Happiness, and now the Westminster government is doing it too. The Dalai Lama’s just given his blessing to a course of evening classes that promise to make participants happier. I’m sure he’d agree that we find the greatest happiness when our aim is to bestow it on others. Or – as the 19th century humanist philosopher Robert Ingersoll wrote – “happiness is the only good, and the way to be happy is to make others so”.
Members of the Scottish Parliament: thank you for listening. I wish you success in making the people of Scotland happy.


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