In Northwest India some years ago, I was entranced by Hindu greetings. With a slight downward inclination of the head, they would say ’Namaste’. This means ’The Divinity in me salutes the Divinity in you’. It meant mutual respect. Is that what is missing today?
Here we have had months of political uncertainty. President Carles Puigdemont patiently, pacifically yet persistently pushed for a referendum and then waited fruitlessly for an answer from Spanish PM, Mariano Rajoy. Is this not a lack of respect? No ’Namaste’ here. Nor was there in England in November 1605: “Remember, remember/ The 5th of November,/ Gunpowder, Treason and Plot.”
The plot by a group of Catholics aimed at blowing up Parliament and Protestant King James I. The Catholics felt they had no respect from a Protestant regime that was deaf to pleas for dialogue. Catholics did not get equal rights until 1829 – some 214 years later! Now, in Britain, children make a stuffed effigy of Guy Fawkes, the group’s leader, to burn during a display of fireworks – a happy social evening, with history forgotten.
Can we not return to showing respect for others, and not to the Franco-like behaviour of October 1? The olive branch is still on offer, but Catalans might need their own republic to get the fairer society and respect they seek.