Imagine the scene. You’re watching the evening news when your neighbour rings your bell. He’s come, he says, about your children. Yesterday afternoon, apparently, he’d observed them gathered at an open bedroom window, taking turns to drop the family cat out. You thank your neighbour and confront your children. “We just wanted to see if it’d always land on its feet” they tell you. You give them a long, sharp talk about treating living creatures in a humane way and dock their pocket-money for the next month. Then a week later you see your neighbour at his upstairs window with not just his family cat but the family dog and his granny as well. He gives you a wave before dropping cat, dog and granny out the window. How would react?
I ask because this morning, Britain and the US are preparing to attack Syria. Trump has even told the Syrians via Twitter that they’re going to get a ferocious pounding. Yet the US and Britain, as we saw in Queen’s University this week, are fervent advocates of the Good Friday Agreement and have urged all involved to find a way to resolve their differences through dialogue and peaceful means. They’re right, of course; but you wonder what sort of minds are at work when states which have repeatedly condemned violence in our North-East Nest have no problem with unleashing violence on war-ravaged Syria.
You may think the contradiction between what they preach and what they practice is the most appalling feature of all this. Wrong. The most appalling feature is that the UK and the US don’t see any contradiction between what they tell us to do and what they do themselves.
A final suggestion: if violence is an inescapable part of human nature, maybe we should arrange to drop Theresa May and Donald Trump out a convenient window several storeys up, so they can know first-hand what violence does to people.