Sunday, August 23, 2009

Compassion feels right

I had intended that I would post today about joyous things - about the best concert I've been to in years, about my grand-daughter's birthday party, about friendship and laughter and sharing and music. And maybe the subject which jumps up and gets in the way is also about something joyous, although to read today's papers you'd wonder: the release on compassionate grounds of the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing.

I've felt right about this from the moment I first heard it mooted. And I still feel right about it, though I would suggest that my feeling now is less instinctive than my first reaction. Then, I was simply reacting - not thinking, not reasoning. And in discussion over the last few days I've had it suggested that I was incredibly naive. Maybe so. But now I realise I'm in good company. I'm proud, for instance, to read the response of the Scottish Bishops to the news. I'm glad to read Kelvin's sermon from today, and to see Rosemary's post on the message of the Gospels.

Today I was doing the intercessions at the morning Eucharist. As often, I prayed that the leaders of the world would act with compassion - only today, I felt that one leader of one small nation had done just that. And I wondered at how it was the business of any other nation to say that this was wrong - or how, in all conscience, they could think that it was other than right.


  1. While I agree, after having given it due consideration, that it was the correct decision (despite the deplorable triumphant welcoming scenes when he got back to Libya), I can be fairly dispassionate in my thoughts.

    I cannot imagine the emotions coursing through those folks who were directly involved, but I can well understand why some of them find themselves unable to display the same level of forgiveness that I can.

    Don't be too hard on them.

  2. Chris, agreeing here with Bill.

    I heard an interview from a tearful mother who lost her 20 year old daughter on that plane. She sobbed, saying her daughter never got the chance to come home. She then questioned why this man should have the "luxury" of being surrounded by family when her daughter was "robbed" of that.

    Mark worked at Xerox at the time with a man who also lost his daughter. The man was totally crushed by his daughter's death at a very young age.

    As Bill has stated, perhaps more than anything, media reporting a hero's homecoming is just beyond what most can swallow.

    Jesus said that we must forgive in order to be forgiven. That really hit home with me when a man was found guilty of killing two people in Canandaigua while the children were in the home. My blood boiled as I read the accounts, but Mark reminded me that Jesus died not only for me, but also for murderers and others.

    Sometimes forgiveness is tough.

    My two cents for what it is worth.

    I also want to comment that your photos of your granddaughter's birthday party are precious!!! I love the way you built up the anticipation!!!! Excellent!

  3. AHM - I don't think I'm being hard on victims here - for that's what they are - but on politicians and jumpers-on to indignant bandwagons. That was my intention anyway.

  4. I can actually understand where some of the American thinking is coming from. Their concept of clemency is keeping someone in jail until they die instead of executing them, so compassionate release is simply an alien concept to them.

    What I find irritiating is the assumption that American justice is the only real justice, therby ignoring the longer tradition of Scots Law and justice and denigrating it.

    The ranting of Bush's ambassador to the UN on last nights "Newsnight" was absolutely enraging. Smartly followed on a report of CIA misdeeds on rendition. So Amerika is a flawless beacon of justice and human rights? Nah, better than many but no better than us and therefore scarecely in a place to lecture.

  5. I have been reading round as many posts as I can about the 'Lockerbie decision', and also listened to Kelvin's sermon on the subject. I am just glad that I did not have to make the would have required the Wisdom of Solomon!

    My main contribution must be that we should consider that perhaps compassion or mercy can only really come from the victims of the atrocity. Were they consulted to any extent?

  6. There's a further excellent post on the subject here on Jim Gordon's blog.