Lord Thurso: Tolerance – The Characteristic of Strenuous Liberty

During last year’s Charles Kennedy Memorial Lecture at Lochaber Chamber of Commerce’s Lochaber Ideas Week, Lord Thurso, Chairman of Visit Scotland, captivated the audience with his inspirational choice of subject matter and his enviable ability to challenge and amuse in just the right measure.  The lecture was the penultimate event during Lochaber Ideas Week’s busy agenda and was part of a fitting end to a week of thought provoking events and collaborative discussions.

Lord Thurso treated the audience to his thoughts on a subject matter a little different to what was perhaps first expected, and, was all the better for it.  In his opening speech, Lord Thurso explained that he would discuss, not tourism or the large increase in visitor numbers to Scotland, but tolerance and its growing importance in our society today.  His memories of the late Charles Kennedy, Lord Thurso’s friendship with him and the lessons Charles Kennedy had passed onto Lord Thurso, were intertwined throughout the lecture, providing a rich tapestry for all those attending to engage with.

The Lecture itself was entitled Tolerance – The Characteristic of Strenuous Liberty.  Lord Thurso took time to explain that he believes Tolerance to be an “active value”, indeed a value for us to be conscious of in today’s society to ensure tolerance is maintained now and in the future.

Lord Thurso went on to explore the essential role education and knowledge play in maintaining this active value and in ensuring tolerance is practiced consciously by society.  Using Lord Boothby’s 1959 Rectorial address at St. Andrews University as inspiration for the topic, Lord Thurso described tolerance as combining the values of courage, compassion, comprehension and humour.

Bruno Berardelli, Chairman of Lochaber Chamber of Commerce made an observation on the night, that, having the opportunity to hear Lord Thurso speak on the subject of tolerance made us, as the audience, “feel much cleverer” just by being part of the lecture.  Here is just a short quote from the lecture notes to give you an example of just what we mean:

On discussing its role and importance, Lord Thurso stated that tolerance is:

“Essential as it tills the intellectual soil which permits the seeds of new ideas and thoughts to germinate and flourish; that in turn feeds the great market place of ideas which has done so much to improve the human condition.”

The lecture ended with time for questions from the audience, of which there were many extending the thought-provoking nature of the discussion and providing an intimate feel to the lecture which added to the experience still further.

We feel extremely privileged to have been able to be part of such an absorbing discussion.  As the event finished we stepped out into the night, clad in evening wear ready for the final event of Lochaber Ideas Week, the Gala Dinner at The Moorings Hotel.

For any further information on Lochaber Ideas Week 2018 or how to get involved with DYW WH, please phone us on: 01397 705765 or pop in and see us at: Lochaber Chamber of Commerce, 15 High Street, Fort William, PH33 6DH.  Alternatively, you can email us on: info@dywwesthighland.org