Learning from the Iran captives saga

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Ekklesia co-director Jonathan Bartley, commenting on the resolution of the Iranian capture of British military personnel in disputed waters:

"Outstanding examples of parents who have found it in their hearts to forgive their children's killers are celebrated on the front pages of newspapers. But transfer such values to the diplomatic arena, and they are soon labelled 'appeasement'.

"It is true that the grace shown by the Iranian President was probably far from pure. But his 'Easter gift' showed that even an act of generosity, made from dubious motives, can be a formidable political tool. The Hebrew scriptures suggest it can 'heap burning coals' upon an enemy's head. The restraint shown by the British, whilst others urged more threatening behaviour, could with perhaps more justification be viewed as unmerited favour.

"The tales already told in the tabloids will not be the end of the story. Their accounts are an interlude in a wider drama involving disputes over Iran's nuclear plans. But as political leaders decide how to respond, they should remember the power that an act of grace can wield. It would be easy to revert to a downward spiral of reprisals, of benefit to no one - something which may sadly have already begun with the propaganda war waged through the international media.

"But it may give all involved some hope to remember that in the Christian story, the hero who in the end triumphs over an axis of evil, is the one who employs grace most effectively."

More: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/programmes/thought/documents/t20070410.shtml