One of the books, written by Phil Hanlon and Sandra Castle of Glasgow University, is entitled AfterNow. It shows that Scotland is one of the most unhealthy societies in Europe. It is unclear why this is so but some suggest a break down in community, a loss of meaning and purpose. The authors suggest that Scotland needs to encourage a return to spiritual values such as community, offering a listening ear and giving people a locus for conversation and reflection if it is to promote health and well-being it is to become a healthy nation .
Another of the book in the series is written by Carol Craig from the Centre for Confidence and Wellbeing . It is entitled The Great Takeover and shows how materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. Carol argues how this has led to competitiveness and a celebrity culture that is not wholesome, affects our health and wellbeing and does not contribute to our happiness. Carol suggests that in the past religions offered an alternative voice but now, according to Carol, the only time an alternative voice is heard is in Thought for the Day on Radio 4!
Postcards from Scotland suggest that there is a need for a change in the general culture of Scotland, a change in people’s attitude, a return to simpler, life-giving, wholesome values. The series encourages us to consider what it means to live a good life, something philosophers have been doing since the time of Socrates. Whatever the good life is it is not about accumulating more goods, being more successful, more important, more powerful. One of the answers offered by the authors of the series is to choose less, to choose voluntary simplicity, to develop compassion for ourselves. others and the world around us. These authors are not necessarily religious but the solution they offer is fundamental to most religions. If religious traditions were able to live out these values in their daily life and speak about them in a way that is meaningful to everyone, religious or not, they could make a great contribution to the wellbeing of society. The religious message is needed more than ever, especially at a time when it looks as though religion is in decline. And this message could be the more powerful if it were spoken with a united voice. This would mean religions setting aside their own particular agendas to speak with a common voice about the human values they all share. This is the work of interfaith relations.