I am glad to see that there is now a Sunday sailing between the Uists and Harris. There are various arguments for and against this “innovation”. Those for are mainly financial. Those against predominantly inspired by faith. The article to which my heading links explores them to some degree. However, there is more to consider here than the need for CalMac to make money or for the strict observance of the Sabbath.
I believe that there is a matter of choice to be considered here and I feel it is wrong for any group to impose its will on another on religious grounds. This is happening in too many places for our collective good these days. In America, the Intelligent Designers seek to impose their will without respect for others wishes, or for the evidence placed before them by science and acknowledged by religious leaders and theologians who have managed to reconcile their belief with the discoveries made by scientists. In other parts of the world, other fundamentalists seek to impose their will by force, killing and maiming those who dare disagree with their credo. And here, in the Western Isles, we see people attempting to deny others a service because it offends their religious convictions. Surely, their faith is stronger than that?
It seems to me that if they are true in their faith then the introduction of a new ferry service should not be posing such a problem. After all, on Sundays the rest of the UK’s populace can travel pretty much where they like by car, bus, train, plane, and – believe it or not – by ferry. Doing so does not interfere with those who attend mainland churches, whatever their faith. And for those of us who have no faith? Well, we’ll either burn in Hell for eternity or be hurtled into oblivion regardless of whether or not we traveled on a Sunday 😉
Then there is the argument that doing away with the Sabbath will irrevocably change the island way of life. One proponent of this argument says: “Would you not like to have one special day which you can share with your family and friends, when you can put off the pressures of work, the stress and the targets?” Well, my response is that I already have two days off each week during which I spend time with my family and when I am free of work and its baggage. I regard both these days as special and do not need a Sabbath to allow me to do this. In fact, I consider that the Sabbath as it stands offers no real release from these pressures as you can do nothing that day because everywhere is closed and there is no public transport should you wish to go a-visiting. Okay, I can travel around by car and, you know, the funny thing is that when I do travel by car on a Sunday, I try to avoid doing so when people are going to and from church. If I can be discreet when moving about on the Sabbath surely I should be allowed to?
That said, I won’t even get started on what the Reverend Andrew Coghill of the Lord’s Day Observance Society has to say about having a “certain anti-Christian Sabbath mentality”. Read Huw Williams’ article and you’ll see what I mean. Mmm, fundamentalism? Nope, simply mental!
I think that what all these naysayers are really afraid of is Change. But change can be good. Change brings progress with it. And progress dragged us out of the caves and into the light of the world we live in today. Whether or not that is a good thing is for each of us to decide on their own but I prefer light over darkness every time.
Anyway, to cut my ramble short, the ability to travel on a Sunday is a good thing. And I bet that anyone, believer or non-believer, who suddenly finds the need to use the service – in the case of a dire family emergency say – will be glad of it. All that’s needed now is for CalMac to take their finger out of the other hole in the dyke and start sailing from Stornoway to Ullapool and back on a Sunday!