Tuesday, 23 May 2017


In 2015, 1732 people were killed on British roads. 22,137 were seriously injured. If this were aviation we would have banned flying by now. We don't because despite the massive tragedy every single year we recognise that the car delivers the maximum possible personal liberty.

As it happens we do not tolerate these incidents lightly. Billions annually are spent looking at ways to improve designs, increase standards, improve roads. The system, though, is not perfect. We only get safer through small increments as we learn each time.

Liberty is something way pay for in blood and treasure. We accept the risks as a consequence. To eliminate risk is to eliminate freedom.

That is why some truly evil people would deliberately put us at risk. They lack the means to conquer us but they can make us build a prison for ourselves - to voluntarily surrender our liberties. Or at least they can if we let them.

In a modern and open society we can never defeat their means. We can only defeat their goals. No high-tech aeroplane or bomb can kill an idea. Only vigilance, bravery and neighbourliness comes close to making us safe.

We can cry out for revenge, we can demand an eye for an eye, we may seek to salve our wounded pride. That has only ever brought more death, more instability, more expense. Three wars later and still atrocities are part of modern life. Some say it's cause and effect. I don't think so. What we do know though is that it doesn't work.

In the end, the perpetrator of this crime against humanity is dead. There will never be justice. The only way we can ever win is to show them time and again that they will gain nothing from it. We will not be our own jailers.

What then is to be done you may ask? Take heart maybe? Take heart that our enemy has no power over us, and of the billions of people on the planet, most of them are better than this. Were humanity as bad as it feels sometimes we would see many more of these attacks. I won't turn to hate my fellow man for the actions of a few.

For all that we can eliminate the conditions in which hate thrives, we still find it growing among us. We can deprive it of certain means and opportunities - and sometimes we can use our military to that effect, but we can never expect complete safety from the darkest instincts of man. We won't be safe even if we do build a prison for ourselves. This is a lesson we will learn time and again - and fight wars because of it.

All we really can do is continue to speak up for liberty and peace - and lead by example - even if that makes us vulnerable. To you that may sound trite, perhaps even resigned, and perhaps it is. But unless you have an idea that doesn't demand that I hate another, that's really all I've got. Liberty is our greatest vulnerability but it is also our greatest strength.

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