An Airliner, An IRA Bomb, and John F Kennedy

It’s a wonderful summer in the UK and school holidays have started so a lot of people will be wanting to fly away for their summer break. Wherever people are going though, they must be eager to avoid the Ukraine. I’ve not seen the news much lately and like many people I’m struggling to understand what happened. Why shoot down a commercial airliner? Was it a mistake? Did somebody think it was a military flight? Who did shoot the plane down and what will be done about it?

Things like this, needless death and destruction, are deeply upsetting. I remember years ago watching the New York Twin Towers terrorist attacks, 9/11 as it is now known, unfold before me on television and I’d forgotten really just how shocking it was until I picked up a DVD of Oliver Stone’s film World Trade Centre recently. I bought it at a car boot sale and watched it one night after a late shift and the scenes of people glued to their TV sets reminded me of myself, back in 2001, unable to move away from the TV screen.

Courtesy wikipedia

Courtesy wikipedia

One sad aspect of these atrocities, particularly the 9/11 attack in New York was that they are based on religious hatred, More than that, they are based on mistaken religious hatred because as far as I know neither the Koran nor the Bible incite murder or hatred. The Bible asks us to love our enemies, not so easy in the case of Osama Bin Ladin I admit but hopefully, in the next world the Almighty will grant his soul the compassion and understanding for others which he did not possess in this world.

A long time ago I used to have a small shop in the Corn Exchange in Manchester. It was called Armchair Motorsports and I used to sell all sorts of Motorsport memorabilia. When things weren’t doing too well I accepted an offer from a guy I knew in a similar business and sold up. He didn’t use my unit at the Corn Exchange, as it was only rented and anyway, he had his own premises. Just as well because some time later the IRA planted a bomb outside and blew the building up. The thing is, what I thought to be something of a blow was in fact a good thing. If I hadn’t sold the business I could have been going to work that day and been injured or even killed. Tragedy, world tragedy, sometimes makes you look at your own life and think just how lucky you are compared to some.

For you regular readers, you will know how I like to tie up my blogs with something faintly amusing at the end but this subject is a tough one in which to inject some humour so I thought rather than go down that route and fail dismally I’d finish with a few thoughtful and sober words from President Kennedy. Words spoken by him in a speech he gave shortly before his death and words which I think are important to this day.

Kennedy was looking for something with which to bring the Americans and the Soviet peoples together, to find some common ground, not an easy task in the cold war period. This is what he said and I think there is something here for everyone, whether you are a Muslim, a Christian, a Ukrainian Separatist or just an ordinary guy like me.

“So, let us not be blind to our differences–but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”