I have been thinkng deeply about what motivates the perpertrators of the kind of atrocities that have always been part of the worst of human conflict. There is no nation that has engaged in warfare and kept it hands clean, before or since the Geneva convention, so this is not going to be a rant against 'the other side'. Not a about a state of war, then, but a state of mind.
I can only approach this by reporting on what I see in the one individual I know who has been there and done it. 'Donegal' is not his real name. He is a sick and broken man on the streets of Gloucester who was once an activist in the IRA. He was radical, fanatically committed to his cause, and is still convinced he was in the right, and I'n not going to say, that he wasn't. Britain has nothing to be proud of in its treatment of Ireland and the Irish, and equally fervent 'warriors' on 'the other side' did terrible things too. Like I said, taking sides isn't my point.
My point is, once the testesterone fuelled blood-lust dies down, other human instincts, those of compassion, loving-kindness and empathy, which have been over-ridden and surpressed, begin to re-emerge. Allowing them, or even further surpressing them, takes it toll, or it does on Donegal. He never sleeps unless he is drugged because every night, every time he tries to close his eyes, he sees the people he tortured and killed. It is hard, very hard not to feel compassion for this man who is haunted moment by moment by the evil he perpetuated thirty years ago, for a cause he believed in. I thought I wouldn't wish this kind of suffering on anyone, until I saw the photograph of that little girl.
There is going to,be no saccharine-sweet ending to this piece. I hope with all my heart that who ever did THAT spends his old-age afraid to sleep because of it. And I wish him an old-age to suffer it.