It’s been a busy month for me, becoming involved in communal leadership here in Manchester. My blog has suffered.
One story this week angered me intensely. I am off topic but I don’t apologise for it.
I used to work in Warrington.
One morning, driving in to work, I noticed the cars in front of me stopped for no apparent reason. They didn’t stop as in a traffic jam, but randomly, as if they had run out of petrol.
Then I saw some drivers get out and stand next to their car. It reminded me of Yom HasShoah in Israel when the siren sounds.
But no siren.
On the the opposite carriageway the cars had not stopped. They were moving slowly in cortege. This was the funeral of one of the young boys, Jonathan Ball, killed in the Provisional IRA bombing of central Warrington a few days earlier.
This cowardly attack had a profound affect on the people of Warrington and the country at large.
The Provos tried to pin the blame on security forces not heeding their warnings and not evacuating the area in time. Such is the tortured and immoral logic of terrorists the world over. The victims die, not because someone tried to kill them (so the terrorist narrative goes), but because they are the unwitting and unintended martyrs of someone else’s cause.
Out of evil, sometimes comes good. The parents of the other child victim, Tim Parry, demonstrated then, and over the last 19 years, a dignity and moral courage that is so lacking in the murderers of their child and the supporters of those murderers.
Colin Parry, in particular, became a national and international figure. His tremendous eloquence, unbelievable dignity and determination to insure that Tim’s and Jonathan’s death would lead to something positive in the teeth of the hate and immorality of their killers has inspired a generation.
With his wife, Wendy, they created the Tim Parry, Jonathan Ball Foundation for Peace which is an organisation which helps victims of terror and conflict.
In so doing, the Parrys have demonstrated the very best of UK society and its traditions.
A small plaque, which I often walked past, in Bridge Street, Warrington, was placed on the site of the bombings.
On Friday night someone prised it from the wall and, presumably intends to sell it for the value of its scrap metal – approximately £30.
Personally, I can think of few acts of desecration that are more redolent of the moral impoverishment of a nation than disrespecting the dead – especially dead children.
Yet war memorials across the country are currently being vandalised by people so poor and impoverished that they feel entitlement to desecrate and dishonour those who fought so they would could live in freedom and dignity. And all because the price of metal has soared meaning that the £50 the desecrator will receive for their scrap of metal is valued by that desecrator as more important than the memory of the dead they disrespect, the families of the dead and national pride and shared history.
So begins the decline of nations and civilisations when we have to guard and protect churches and mosques and synagogues and war memorials and graves from the ransacking hordes of latter-day Vandals.