I often think about how much of the way your life turns out is down to luck. I was pondering it again today when I drove past The Royal Infirmary. There was a guy standing at the bus stop in the torrential rain, trying to hold his bulky frame up on two walking sticks. He was obviously uncomfortable, probably in pain and definitely not having a good day. We all get days like that but if it was me, I'd call a taxi and get home in a bit more comfort. Not everyone can do that and until I became an MSP, I thought twice and thrice before using a taxi. Being able to buy a little convenience, a wee bit more comfort is such a simple little thing that can make all the difference but, as I say, not everyone can do it. I really felt awful driving past and started torturing myself again about how unfair it is that my life is so much easier than his.
I know I work hard but no harder than lots of other people and who knows what his story is - what lucky breaks were denied to him. Many folk make the argument that it's got nothing to do with luck and everything to do with making good choices and although Im' a fan of the latter, I don't agree. Eg I consider myself lucky that I was born with enough intelligence to make the right choices and I feel fortunate that my parents encouraged me to make good choices for myself. Both of these are down to luck.
My dad used to joke about it saying to me "I'm a very lucky person hen, it's just that it's all bad luck"! And he had a point. He was one of these people who had more than one truly horrific thing happen in his life and although he retained a sense of humour about it, lots of pretty rotten things happening out of the blue. He didn't always make good choices about how to come to terms with these events but there's none of us perfect and none of us born knowing the solutions to all of life's problems.
I get annoyed when I see folk falling about drunk, I don't like it if someone who's obviously addicted to drugs asks me for money and I did feel like saying to the guy on crutches standing outside the hospital today smoking a cigarette "you should be looking after yourself". And although you can't just be laid back about these things, particularly when you're in a position to influence policy and services, I think it pays not to be judgemental. Whilst I'm not particularly religious, at times like this the saying "there but for the Grace of God" springs to mind. Let's not underestimate how easy it is for any of us to fall upon bad times and let's be grateful for the good fortune that we do have. (And I'll try to remember that next time I'm complaining about how tired I am :-))
Politics Live - readers' edition - Friday 21 July
19 hours ago