In a Word . . . Knee
How war was averted when I marched on crutches against the Bush-Blair project of 2003
I’ve recently rediscovered the joy of movement. Normal movement. To be able to walk freely, again. Bliss, it is. Very heaven.
My knees had been troubling me lately so I knew another war was likely.
Last time this happened as seriously was in 2003.
Some conspiratorial-minded colleagues suggested then it was because some senior clerics were sticking needles into the knees of a voodoo doll made in my image at bishops’ palaces throughout Ireland. I never believed it.
However I did feel obliged to join the huge Dublin protest march early that year against a likely US-UK invasion of Iraq, on crutches.
It made all the difference.
It is sobering now to realise that had I not done so Saddam Hussein could have been toppled, thus destabilising the whole Middle East region, even as far as north Africa, and possibly unleashing millions of unfortunate refugees on an unprepared Europe with unforeseeable consequences.
Some refugees might even have ended up in my own hometown in the west, Ballaghaderreen. Such wild fantasy?
All was averted because I marched on crutches against the Bush-Blair project of 2003. Gratifying, but no knees should have to bear the weight of such responsibility.
So when my left left knee began “a-knocking” again recently it seemed another war was imminent. The US and North Korea were about to go to battle and I would be called on to march again, on crutches.
This time to avert a nuclear holocaust.
As before, the burden became so great my right knee went out in sympathy. Joint action, you might say. Knees must. Such solidarity as you find among more militant unions whose aim is to “bring the house down, then we talk”.
As both knees became inflated as Trump and Kim Jong-un rhetoric, it was soon clear not much else would happen. Following anti-inflammatory intervention, a pause and application of rubs, an uneasy normality returned.
The resultant lacuna allows us all relish the simple things; not least the aesthetic beauty of a perfectly functioning knee. The grace of its natural movement becoming a thing of joy.
Beneath it all however is a refreshed realisation of the overwhelming mastery of unrelieved pain, and a re-dedication to the ideal that it must be avoided at all costs.
Knee from Greek gony, Latin genu, Old English cneo, cneow.