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Viewpoint from Peter Glanville for 4th Feb 2011

Peter Glanville
Deacon of St Mary's RC Parish in GY
“Someone’s gotta pay!”
ReaPETER GRANVILLE webd the papers or watch the TV, and you can understand the current belief that whatever happens in life - “someone’s to blame,” and more importantly - “someone’s gotta cough up!” We live in a litigative and judgemental society where an “infinite pot” of potential compensation is dangled in front of us by “Lawyers for all”, promising “loadsa money”.
Insurance Companies urge us never to accept blame. Everything from a burn from a mouth murdering cup of hot coffee or a stumble at a frost induced pot hole is somebody else’s fault – never ours. Definitely no such thing as an “accident”.
At the end of last year, I was in the company of thirty or so Americans for nearly three weeks. They were mostly retired and to a person seemed terrified that the world was “out to get them”. These apparent threats were aimed specifically at “real” America and “true” Americans. To most of the group, Obama was a traitor. Critics of gun ownership were “lily-livered liberals”- committed to the destruction of their personal liberty to “gun tote”. As for “innocent before proven guilty”- most held to the “shoot first and ask questions later” philosophy. In a discussion of “Death Row”, the moral essentials of legal investigation before execution were dismissed as “iDove rightndecisive time and money wasting”.
Everything was totally black or totally white. Words such as - discernment, analysis, consideration and true justice - never mind forgiveness, charity and rehabilitation, were not in their vocabulary. What they wanted was retaliation, retribution, revenge and “payback”.
Even their religious faith seemed founded on condemnation, punishment and the right to “wipe out”. All this based on an uninformed and blinkered self righteousness; fuelled by a sort of, “Spiritual Lawyers for you!”
You’ve probably gathered by now that I was more than a little disturbed by these attitudes from “across the Pond”. I remained comforted however, that in the good old UK, our inherent sense of “fair play” - justice for all- and the ability to see all sides would hold supreme after our centuries of social development.
Am I right? Are we still a society with a tuned sense of conscience? Can we perform the moral and philosophical gymnastics of abhorring the wrong whilst helping the wrong doer? Can we really move towards reconciliation and regeneration if we live solely in the pains of our personal past? If we can’t, then perhaps we can’t forgive. So does this invite others to “not forgive us”? 
- It’s a tough challenge, but worlds better than the destructive bitterness of revenge.
Now, what were the words- “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive…” You know the rest.
As some voices across the Atlantic might say ---- “Yes we can!”