I do feel very sorry for Mrs Janes whose son Jamie was killed in Afghanistan recently and who received a rather shoddily written letter from Gordon Brown.
There are so many questions to be asked about this war, and answering them is beyond my expertise. One can quite understand how a Mother would feel so aggrieved at the loss of her son, particularly when questions are being asked about the value of such a conflict. And, to add insult to injury, to have a letter from the Prime Minister, intended to console her, but which gives the impression of being hastily and carelessly written (including spelling her son’s name wrong), must compound her already considerable grief.
But, I have to say, I do feel sorry for the Prime Minster, Gordon Brown too. Leaving aside all the politicising of this war, for someone with the weight of government on his shoulder to have taken time to handwrite a letter to a grieving mother is surely worth something. Much of the error in the letter is down to his appalling handwriting. And, for sure, he would have done well to have proof read it before sending it. But, give him a break.
This incident raises a number of issues in my mind: Who gave this letter to The Sun, and what mandate did The Sun feel they were fulfilling in publishing the letter? The behaviour of the press is the shoddiest bit about the incident. On what grounds do they claim the moral high ground in this debate? And are we to believe that their wading into this issue is nothing to do with their decision to choose to support the Conservatives rather than Labour from now on?
This is a messy war, and there are all sorts of questions to be asked about it. Moreover, Gordon Brown’s leadership is, probably quite rightly, being challenged in this regard. But talk about kicking a man when he is down. Leave him alone, he tried to do the right thing. And if you are looking for perfect leaders in this regard, I am afraid they won’t be human…
Perhaps we could encourage all involved to remember Jesus’ words. Here is a leader who took the bullet in order to buy us freedom and in whom the mourner may find consolation and hope:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Update following up comments:
Thanks for all your comments – both here, Facebook and via email. There has been a lot more in the Press includling an intersting article in the Guardian entitled “It’s not Brown’s spelling, it’s his sight” and further in the Times, comparing Gordon Brown’s letter with that written by Abraham Lincoln to a Mother who had lost 5 sons in the civil war:
“I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the replublic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice on the altar of freedom”