Sunday, 4 December 2011
A good deed in a naughty world...
Sometimes, when you've nearly given up on human nature, something small but perfectly formed will pop up and flicker for a moment and tell you yes, there is hope, there is a thing called progress.
Plenty of reason for thinking otherwise this week - not least the tone of Ruth Patterson's voice as she lectured the Mayor of Belfast about how he Must Do Better. "Live and learn, Lord Mayor!" she told him, in a voice that didn't so much drip as stay deep-frozen in resentment and clenched-teeth animosity. I've gone over the Duke of Edinburgh award to a British Army cadet thing already so I'll stay off that well-worn path, but it's hard not to think of words like "kettle" and "pot" and "black" when you hear Ruthie lecturing someone about openness and acceptance of diverse views. And I'm amazed that no public commentator has seen fit to utter a single critical word on an army, particularly the British army here, having a hand in the development of young people like this 15-year-old. If a tobacco company came in to sprinkle its dubious stardust over children, we'd surely hear the yells of protest, and quite right too. But the British army? Nah.
If anything, more depressing this past week: the HET findings leak (if such it be) about what happened at Loughgall in 1987. Whatever you may think of the IRA, there can be no doubt of the suffering families left behind after that particular massacre. One of them was on air this week with Wendy Austin and you could hear the pain in her voice over twenty-five years later.
But then this morning I switched on BBC Radio Ulster/Raidio Uladh's Sunday Sequence. The William Crawley/Finola Meredith/Tim Brannigan take on the D of E award thing was Alliancethink gone mad, and yet when I switched the programme off a few minutes later, I felt oddly cheered. Why? Because before he passed over to the Sunday Service from wherever, presenter Crawley, a man from a Protestant background, wrapped up with "Sin é, that's it for this Sunday". It was easy, it was natural, it was good to hear. Now if we could get poppy-wearing on BBC TV opened up in a similar way - opt in if you want, opt out if you want . Or better still, if the same approach could be applied to Easter lily-wearing on BBC TV - now that would be a move to real even-handedness. It'll probably never happen but still, I'm feeling dangerously cheerful this winter's morn over Crawley's cúpla focal. Maith thú, William.