Yesterday, I wept in a cinema – something I had not done since, at the age of 10, I was utterly undone by the death of Bambi's mother. The cause of tears on this occasion was a scene from Amir Amirani's film 'We are Many', a documentary about the global protest against the Iraq War.
Clichés are usually truths which have somewhat lost their impact through repetition. That repetition takes place because the truths concerned were originally mordantly appropriate. Try out 'If war is the answer, what is the question?' and ' if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail'.
We have a tendency in these islands – particularly in England – to prefer our history packaged as 'heritage'. Pageantry and grandiose words may easily replace rigorous and realistic analysis with a warm fuzzy feeling. It can also make us look both foolish and false.
When Charles Kennedy died last week, alone in his Fort William home, the shock and sadness was felt far beyond his party. More than a warm, amiable and likeable man, more than an extraordinarily capable politician before illness hollowed him out, he was that rare animal, a genuine liberal. The lower case is deliberate.
Poverty and hope abandoned: learning again the spiritual value of each other
"Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate" (Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.) The words Dante places over the gates of hell are terrifying. And to turn that cause and effect around is to remind ourselves of the devastation wrought in lives where hope has gone.
Aspiration, Labour's failure and the long road to understanding
Shock does not produce reasoned reaction. No one was expecting a majority Conservative government and, despite the fact that Labour increased its share of the vote by 1.5 per cent over the Tories' 0.8 per cent, the parliamentary arithmetic meant that Friday's news was defined as a Labour wipe-out.
Beyond the ballot: a spirit that will not be broken
A desolate day follows a long night and the metaphors are a measure of the shock: “ a tsunami”, “ a landscape changed out of recognition”, “ sweeping all before them”. The reality is that the polls were wrong and we were ill-prepared for a Conservative majority.
It seems that quite a lot of candidates don't like getting too close to voters. To me, the revealing thing about Gordon Brown's little brush with Gillian Duffy five years ago were the words "...they should never have put me with that woman".
Many of us inherit our politics and our religion. For that reason, both require examination and re-evaluation from time to time. It can be difficult to accept that familial and tribal loyalties may, if not subject to discernment, become barriers to truth, fidelity and justice.
At the end of the week in which the party manifestos were published, I attended a hustings in a nearby church. The five candidates standing in this rural seat – Conservative, Green, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Ukip – all took part.