Two things that gave me thought today. The first was my lunch, but I'll come back to that. The second was a programme on Radio 4 (BBC), called An Open Wound. It was about some Argentinian former soldiers reflecting on the Falkland war in the early 1980s. At the time (1982), I was an undergraduate at St Andrews in Scotland, where I was privileged to know the professor of Latin American studies, the remarkable (and sadly late) Douglas Gifford. At a casual gathering of students, we discussed the war that was going on at the time. It all seemed very black and white then, but Douglas (himself born, I think, in Argentina) spoke gloomily about the war. Oh, he had no sympathy for Galtieri, but he said that he also had little sympathy for the British soldiers (and he himself was a keen member of the Territorial Army) because, as he said, they were professionals. They knew what they were doing, nobody had forced them into the army. His heart bled, on the other hand, for the Argentinian conscripts who were forced to fight and, indeed, starve, for a cause they had little sympathy with, and for which many of them had to give their lives.
At the time, I didn't understand. But as the months and years passed, I grew to do so, and listening to this very moving programme I feel it all over again. One of my altar boys from past years is now an American Marine in Iraq, and I worry about him and pray for him a lot. When I was young, I saw nations, countries and glory. Now, a priest, I see people.
God rest all those who died, British and Argentinians.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.