About 2,600 years ago the Greek slave(?) Aesop wrote, or at least ‘recorded’, the fable of the Oak and the Reed. You know the one, about how the puny little reed was mocked by the mighty oak, and then the big wind came an the reed bent with the wind and bounced back when the wind had passed, but the oak was uprooted and came crashing down.
I was pondering this after (a) watching last night’s Reeling in the Years, which showed Margaret Thatcher in full “we will never bow to terrorists” mode and (b) reading that a son of Col Gaddafi was killed in the troubles in Libya.
Does it always come down to this? Do people always have to die before those with intransigent opinions will listen to their opponents?
The moderate Unionist politicians in Northern Ireland spent years not listening to the voice of the minority. Actively not listening. This led the way for the more extreme elements of the minority to shoulder their moderate politicians into the shadows and take centre stage. This then provoked the extreme unionists to counter the threat to their way of life. The extremists on all sides entrenched and made ever escalating demands of their opponents.
Eventually, of course, the extremists won. They always do. Look up “The Stern Gang”, “Eoka-B”, the PLO, the list is endless.
But the aims of these groups were also the aims of moderate members of their minorities, and much bloodshed could have been averted if the moderate wings of their opponents had listened, considered, and acted. Acted in ways that they were later forced to act.
2,600 years and we learn nothing.
I realise that many people think that Col Gadaffi is ‘other-than-normal’ in his thinking, but I doubt that even he feels that his son’s life is a price worth paying to remain in power in Libya.