At one of my schools we had a bully, (actually at most of them, I went to eight). This particular young man was big for his age and had a habit of wandering round the playground and swiping someone, anyone, on the head. To the cry “what was that for?” he would reply, “that’s for nothing, wait ’til you do something”.  And seriously in his way you did not want to get!

A couple of us complained to the duty master. This was a long time ago but I remember what he said, and what followed, “he’s not bigger than all of you”.  Then, apparently to himself, “I’ve just remembered, I have to go to the office, I’ll be back in ten minutes”. I’ll leave the denouement to your imaginations.

What that has to do with forgiveness I’m not sure, it’s a good, true, story. Forgiveness is not the easy option, it is not ‘passive’ resistance, it is active. Forgiveness doesn’t want to destroy, it wants to mend. And here is my dilemma. In the context of the Middle East I experience mixed voices.

There are Jews and Arabs, Palestinian, Lebanese, Syrian, Iranian, Christian, Muslim, calling for peace -with justice. And there are Muslims, Christians, Iranians, Syrians, Lebanese, Palestinian, Arabs and Jews calling for vengeance. But from Zionists, whether Israeli or christian I hear only hate and the language of destruction. There is something sick in the mind of the bully, the person that can only see difference and cannot see the others’ humanity.

O yes, I see the point: there are more of us than there are of them. Let’s work together…

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