Two forces met in New York and shouted their support or their disapproval of Donald Trump. There is no more ridiculous sight to see than two grown people standing, toe to toe, bawling their version of truth into the face of the other. In our societies today we make what agreements we can and we settle to live under the Law, and where we cannot agree we go to vote and let the majority group take the lead. Without that, we would fall into anger, hatred and violence, as happened in Washington on the Capitol.
In Ireland a hundred years ago the people of the South had voted massively to have their own parliament and rule. The 1918 election was a landslide victory for Sinn Fein. But there were two problems. England did not want to lose Ireland, and in the north a group of people lives, the Unionists, who were a transplanted people into Ulster centuries before. In simple terms of numbers, the Irish had it, but life is not a simple game of numbers.
Northern Ireland came into existence to protect the power and rights of the Unionist people who lived there, and laws were made that discriminated against those who did not agree with the outcome. Since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 people have lived peacefully inside this fabricated state.
Now the numbers game is coming back into play, and sometime in the future the people may decide to vote themselves into a united Ireland. That is what we do on issues where there is no common agreement – go to the polls and live with what happens. But numbers are not the only game in town. There are some people who will never (never, never, never,) accept a United Ireland, just like in all the old IRA troubles there were people who would never accept Unionist Rule. As an old friend of mine used to say, those people need to go and have a good talk with them selves.
Here in Scotland political change is afoot and the Independence or not of this lovely land goes through its highs and lows. Healthy societies have to learn to live with things they don’t like until they can change them. But the human capacity for deceit and double- dealing does not go away, and people who see they are losing the argument are often tempted to try other unpleasant ways to maintain their position and pre-eminence.
In this Holy Week we see two powerful forces collide, Jesus and the Jews. When argument does not win, the Jews turn to force and Jesus is arrested. Just like all those people in Russia who now languish unseen in jails for opposing Putin. Jesus assures Pilate that he is not here to take power and dominate anyone. He is on the side of truth and truth is the overarching power that rules us all.
Healthy democracy means a society that lives in respect for one another, agreeing to disagree when that is the only way forward.
The vote is an important part of democracy but a willingness to live peaceably trumps them all.
5 April 2023