Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Remembrance and Humanity

My handwriting is quite atrocious. As a child I would be told off because it was so bad. The great virtue seemed to be neatness, but I scrawled. And as the years go by it's got worse.

It's funny when our organist complains that he can't read the weekly hymn list. Embarrassing when I can't read my own writing. Potentially serious when our local Registrar rang me up to say she couldn't read some of the entries I'd made on our last Marriage Return (though we laughed about it, and I've been forgiven). But I don't think there's much I can do about it now. When one of my children was diagnosed at Primary School as having dyspraxia, he was able to benefit from Handwriting Workshops and Motor Skills sessions with trained professionals. Now his writing is far better than mine. I had no such diagnosis or help - just the occasional telling-off. It didn't do me any good.

But knowing how difficult I find it is to produce a legible sentence - and how the individual characters within words seem to have a deliberately mis-shaped self-image - I can only marvel at the way "The Sun" newspaper has chosen to pillory the Prime Minister yet again. His politics may be fair game - and military strategies over Iraq and Afghanistan need considered debate. But to take up the poor handwriting of a man who also has serious problems with his eyesight and use it to heap calumny on him is both indecent and cruel.

When I mentioned this to someone, they responded, "Well, we didn't vote for him." So, does that make it OK?

Isn't the clearer evidence that this is a man who finds it difficult to express what he feels - and more difficult to form in written characters on paper - yet who nevertheless does so? That he knows something about grief, and tries decently and humanely to express his genuine feeling. He may not make the best job of it, but he tries.

One of the less savoury aspects of today's culture and society is to express how it feels in terms of "hate." It's there in vulgar petty forms such as Facebook groups like "I hate John and Edward" (two rather daft, but innocent 17 year olds on The X-Factor). Why do people need to sign up in thousands to say that they hate people they've never met, and whose only offence is against tunefulness?

Love good. Hate evil. Do justice at the gates. That's the message of the prophets which we need to hear.

Today in the midst of Remembrance commemorations, we need to remember what truly makes for humanity. We need decency - not cheapness - in our dealings with each other. Otherwise what's the point of it all?

This is what I had to say on Remembrance Sunday before the last round of press nastiness broke out.

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