When I was at primary school – many years ago – there was a nasty custom whereby someone would shout out …. A pinch and a punch for the first of the month and no return whatsoever….. all the while administering the said pinch and punch to the hapless victim. I never seemed to be the one to know when it was the first of the month, so developed a nifty way of dodging the perpetrators. The…..no return whatsoever…. was supposed to protect the perpetrator from retaliation, so I suppose there must have been a code of conduct that had some kind of honour in it.
Why do I think of this when reading of the latest atrocities in Iraq? The mutilation of bodies and mob-hysteria is anathema to most of us, but then I like to think that it is horrific to most of the Iraqi people as well. As a minister, my job is to preach love, forgiveness, tolerance, compassion and truth, and that is hard in the climate of terrorism and a war that is not supposed to be a war. I suppose I am saying that there is the root of violence and self-preservation in all of us, and we simply have to plod on trying to become the best that we can.
By the way, the 1st of April always caught me unawares at school, and still continues to do so. I am one of the gullible, who finds it hard to distinguish fact from fiction, especially when it appears in national newspapers. Perhaps that is because the older I become, the stranger the world seems – and the more believable.