Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Quality of Mercy is not strained

Or perhaps it is. I've listened with care but growing annoyance to the torrent of comment on the release of Al Megrahi. I don't doubt that there have been some discussions on trade and suchlike in the background. Trade underpins international relations and has done for as long as I can see in my limited studies of history. But it's not the whole story, I'm sure. Life is more complex than that. Scotland's justice minister had an unenviable job and he carried it out wth dignity. Whether he did it with integrity is between him and his Maker. One part of Kenny McAskill's statement stood out to me: Mr Al Megrahi now faces a sentence imposed by a higher power. It is one that no court, in any jurisdiction, in any land, could revoke or overrule. It is terminal, final and irrevocable. He is going to die. In the middle of a carefully argued statement that comment spoke volumes.
I was frustrated by people describing Al Megrahi's homecoming as " a hero's welcome." What I saw looked more like a family welcoming home a long-lost relative. Leave aside the posturing of Gaddafi's son, and a few zealots. The others at the airport looked to be celebrating a long awaited homecoming. Perhaps we in the "developed" world forget how important family, tribe and nation can be.
My heart goes out to those in Scotland and beyond who thought that the appeal hearing might bring some understanding of what happened and why on 21 December 1988. Now, there's always going to be the feeling that there's more to be told and it may not come out in our lifetimes.

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