When a dictator strikes, he is quick and efficient. A troublesome journalist steps inside his country’s embassy and finds it is already equipped with bone saws to dispose of his body. The nun quietly opposing logging companies and championing the rain forest and those who live in it is found with a bullet in her head. The political exile touches a nerve agent smeared on the door handle of his safe house. And others in the media, in the church and in political dissent get the message.
So the story for today (Maundy Thursday).
It is the sensitive time of year when the mob in any big city could easily be whipped up against the occupying forces. A religious radical from the north has needed watching for some time. Now he is in the capital attracting attention and crowds. There is intelligence about where he will be late in the evening. He will be picked up during the night. An initial trial will take place in the dark. The authorities will rubber stamp the conviction at dawn. The public execution will be under way tomorrow (Good Friday) before most of the crowds even know he had been taken.
Next week, there will be Easter Day to write about. The finality of death unfinalised. The tyrant’s effective swift victory nullified. The religious radical loose again.
But that news isn’t here in time for this week’s paper. We are still in the days when God-made-human is alongside those whose hope seems least secure. He awaits the fate of those whose lives and ideas seem so easy for power to stamp out. As he washes their feet tonight, he has puzzling final words with his fearful closest friends and collaborators – ‘go on loving whatever happens’.
Then power strikes and thinks it has won.
The picture is of Brookhouse Beck only a few hundred yards from our house, near the Railway Children tunnel. The three hundred words are my piece for the Thought for the Week column in today's Keighley News (I only get asked about once a year).