Thursday, 22 July 2010

Compassion before vengeance : a Scottish achievement


Last year's decision by Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish government's justice secretary to free Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi who had been convicted under Scottish law of the Lockerbie bombing has raised its head in the news again. The decision has been condemned by both Barak Obama and David Cameron during the British prime minister's visit to the United States of America earlier this week.

To be clear the Lockerbie aeroplane crash on Wednesday, December 21st, 1988 was the consequence of an outrageous and murderous act which demonstrated the worst of humankind. I continue to mourn the loss of each one of those innocent unique human beings who perished on that day. They are lost to us forever. They can never be brought back. My own grief is brought even more sharply to mind every time I pass by Lockerbie on the way up to Scotland from my home in Devon. They will never be forgotten.

However the Scottish government's decision to free Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi showed the terrorists the best of humankind - compassion for a sickly human being - even though he may have shown himself to be a most deadly enemy of humankind. I am not a Christian but I understand compassion is part of the Christian creed which, I am told, underpins the ethos of the governance of both the UK and USA. Even if the Scottish government's act of compassion does not influence the cruelly destructive behaviour of terrorists it certainly should make us all feel better human beings.

Just to be sure, I am, as a citizen, impressed with, and proud of, a government which exercises compassion. I feel both despair and guilt if I am served by a government that seeks vengeance anywhere it can exercise it and which in my name tortures, or condones the torture of human beings it has wrongly or even rightly apprehended. I am sad to say our United Kingdom government does this.
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