And yet, the light.
It often appears we're all daily descending into a dark pit of terror and internecine religious conflict. Living under that kind of weight, good news is always welcome.
So I was cheered this morning to be greeted by the news that the Irish Republican Army has ordered its members to cease their armed campaign
. Although the heyday of IRA militarism is long past, today's announcement was an important symbolic step.
And, like most things, there's probably a lesson to be learned here. How did a group, convinced that violent opposition was the only way to effect political change, travel full circle and adopt institutional means? I don't pretend to know the answer. But if we are able to distill the operative principles, I'm pretty sure they'd be applicable in the modern world. The IRA/English conflict has a lot of similarities to the current 'war on terror'...especially the damaging influences of poverty, nationalism, imperialism and religion on political crises. The answer to fundamentalist, militant islam is somewhere between understanding and shooting, and we need to find it. I hope policy makers in the west will pay attention to the little piece of history coming out of Ireland this morning.