So the debate over the Megrahi release goes on. For all the furore I think I've had 2 emails complaining about it and 3 commending it. It is true of course that "anti" folk will always be louder than "pro" folk and the impression is that everyone's up in arms about it. But I'm finding that is not the case. A number of people I would have expected to be against the early release have surprised me. None moreseo and none more important to me than my mum.
I was varnishing her window frames for her today and didn't dare mention it because I was 100% certain she'd be outraged. I slipped up when she asked why I wasn't in Manchester as I'd planned to be (visiting my sister) and I said because I had to go to parliament on Monday. That reminded her and I got ready for an earbashing.
But no, she said she understood both sides of the divided opinion but believed, on balance, that this was the right decision. I nearly fell out the window in shock.
She'd 3 reasons for reaching that conclusion and I'll quote where possible.
1) "The man's dying Anne, he's got the worst possible sentence, what purpose would it serve keeping him in jail?"
2) "I don't know if he's guilty or not, I think he probably is but his poor wife and children are not. Imagine your dad had done that - think how horrified you'd be but you'd still love him and it would be terrible to know he was dying and you couldn't look after him. No, I think for the sake of his innocent children, Kenny MacAskill did the right thing. They keep talking about compassion but those children have had a terrible life and they deserve compassion too."
(NB My dad had no criminal convictions! She was using it as an example.)
3) "I'm glad the SNP Government didn't let the Americans bully them. I'm fed up with them thinking they run the world. It's fair enough for the families to express an opinion but the American government has got no right to try and tell this country what to do."
RESPECTING OTHERS' OPINIONS
I am amazed and pleased and very proud of my mum. And she said something that I think she has in common with all those who agree with the decision but with none of those who are against it. She said she could understand opposing opinions and she could respect them. That's the thing - everyone who agrees it was the right thing to do is being incredibly respectful and sensitive to everyone else. Those who are against it are being, on the whole, blinkered, even hysterical and in many cases, downright rude. I exclude from this those families of victims who don't agree - they have a different perspective and no-one can blame them for being emotional about it.
It's those who have no personal link who are vitriolic and even abusive to others simply for disagreeing with them.
I would end by asking you to spare a thought for someone who is very much involved in all of this. Before I do, let me tell you I have been thinking a lot about the families of the victims over the last few days and I will continue to do so.
But the person I'm asking you to spare a moment to think about is Megrahi's mother. There was a photo of him with his family in some of the Sundays today. And there she was, his 80 plus mother, hugging him, so happy to have her boy home. She doesn't know he's about to die.
Just like the families of those who died in the Lockerbie bombing who could not have dreamt that they would never see their loved ones again, she is completely ignorant to the fact that in the next month or so, he'll be gone again - this time forever.
And just like the families who were completely innocent, so too is she.
She is simply a mother who loves her child and who, very soon, will watch him die ahead of her. Thank God she got to spend some last days with him. That, to me, is what true compassion is all about.