Pausing For Thought(s)…

Pause For ThoughtEver had one of those nights when you either can’t get to sleep, or you wake way too early and for no apparent reason? I often do, it’s mostly due to a life of shift working and irregular sleep patterns. When it happens, what to do with those unexpected waking hours is the question…

So as not to disturb my wife, whilst tossing and turning trying to get to sleep, I often get up go downstairs and make a hot drink. I read a book, surf the internet or just listen to the radio. For some strange reason I also seem to get some of my better blog post ideas and content thoughts during the wee small hours.

But I’m also lucky… My sleep is broken and/or limited because I don’t need much of it. I’m lucky because I don’t wake in the middle of the night screaming because of PTSD or some other such mental flash back or medical condition.

It’s one of those few times of the day when the world is mostly still and peaceful, a period relatively free from the constant hubbub of our ‘always on’ rat race lives. A time when we can distance ourselves from targets, objectives and even the routine/mundane worries of our day-to-day existence. A time when I’m free to Pause For Thought.

The term (Pause For Thought) actually comes from a BBC Radio 2 feature; a brief period with different contributors from a variety of faiths, it allows people to share their thoughts throughout the week on a common theme. I forms part of the BBC’s Religion and Ethics coverage.

Like most of you I waken up every morning to Radio 2… the daze gradually lifting, half dreaming, half hearing, sometimes the two blurring between fact and fiction…(Steve Stockman)

But those who have visited here before will know, I don’t personally believe in God (whoever he/she may be) and I’m certainly not a follower of any particular religion. That said, I can understand ‘faith’ and respect the beliefs and faith of others. As I’ve grown older I can also better see and understand the value of many people’s beliefs. I’ve also come to understand that, irrespective of someone’s ‘brand’ of faith, very few (if any) promote many of the things which are actually done in the name of that particular faith.

There is a crisis of understanding that tears at the social fabric of societies around the world. Globalization has outpaced understanding, creating divisions that plague societies with prejudice, misinformation, hate, and violence…(Coexist Foundation)

The above quote in a ways, sums up the root cause of much of the bigotry and hatred in our society. Intolerance and/or fear born mostly out of ignorance. Too many individuals in our society today never look or see any further than the front door of their own life. If they can be bothered to have opinions on anything socially important, let alone posses something a tad deeper than a superficial understanding, much of their beliefs and perceptions are often developed from tabloid press opinion and interpretation. 

Again I’m lucky… I’ve always had more interest in better understanding than simple acceptance. It’s something that usually makes me ask… “Yes ok but why?” Thankfully I’ve been fortunate enough to progress through life interacting with people from many differing races, creeds and religious beliefs. I also grew up in a family environment that promoted tolerance, understanding and acceptance of diversity. I had a head start that many don’t have.

My father came from a Catholic background, my mother is an Anglican. I have relatives who were raised in the Salvation Army and ones who married into Buddhism. I have friends who are Jewish, ones who follow Islam and others who are Hindu and Sikh.

In simple terms… I’m one of the most multi-faith friendly people you’ll ever find. It’s also part of why I find the religious views of others so interesting. Although I find them so, I obviously don’t always agree with them but am always prepared to debate and/or challenge where appropriate.

Music, apart from often forming part of my particular brand of pausing for thought (see here), can also be a tool for promoting awareness of those issues impacting upon humanity. As I found from waking at some God unearthly hour when I didn’t need to, courtesy of Vanessa Feltz and Pam Rhodes… it was also part of this week’s BBC Radio 2 Pause For Thought theme – First Albums.

Pam offered some interesting thoughts on our society, the ‘Baby Boomer’ generation and many of the social (and unfortunately often selfish) differences between now and the post WWII Britain that she and I grew up in.  

The band U2 (to name but one example) have long been fine exponents of promoting Pausing For Thought in their social activism via music.

Walk on: The Spiritual Journey of U2 – One of the world’s leading voices of faith and social activism also happens to be one of its biggest rock bands. The members drink, smoke and swear—yet a radical biblical agenda and faith fuel their life and work. Welcome to the dichotomy of U2…(purchase at amazon.co.uk)

I think lots of people should make a belated New Year Resolution. People need to spend a little time every day where they can also Pause For Thought. Spend some time distancing themselves from the predominance of their self-interest, devote some of their busy self-important lives to thinking about the greater issues that impact on our society and humanity as a whole.

Thinking more about the trials and tribulations of others for once will alow you to fully understand… many of your problems and issues are far more trivial than you actually perceive them to be!

Notes:

  1. Vanessa Feltz features a Pause For Thought every day at 0545hrs on her ‘Early Breakfast’ show, with different contributors from a variety of faiths offering thoughts throughout the week on a common theme.
  2. Pam Rhodes is an author, TV presenter and familiar presenter of BBC Television’s Songs of Praise for over twenty years.
  3. Steve Stockman is the minister of Fitzroy Presbyterian Church in Belfast and author of Walk On; The Spiritual Journey of U2, and blogs at Soul Surmise on how his faith and culture meet

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