Monday, January 03, 2011

To everything there is a season

There comes a time in any conflict when the causes that propel people into combat lose their meaning, when ideological certainties become so much hot air, clung to solely by fanatics. The same too happens to oppressive regimes when the constant demands for slavish approval from their citizenry collapse in a spasm of collective disgust. War weariness is too negative a term, it implies resignation, instead there is an overwhelming desire for the dignity of ordinariness, compelling acts of courage against the abnormality of lives lived in servitude or subject to arbitrary violence.

Each moment is an opportunity, a crack opening up in what had seemed to be an irresolvable situation. We saw it in Burma and Iran and now, with this declaration from Gaza (on Facebook of all places) we can get a tiny glimpse of the constituency for peace and a settlement of the Israel/Palestine conflict. It isn't much and may turn out to be of little or no significance, but it is there.

When these moments occur you need imaginative political leadership, rather than politicians who are cautious and complacent in their certainties, or, even worse, harbour a complicity with the fanatics, born out of of fear and a certain sneaking sympathy. And, of course, the recent peace talks failed. Yet again.

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