Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A word out of place

I wonder if you read a piece in The Guardian on Monday by Shimon Peres, the new president of Israel? He didn't promise to withdraw from the illegally occupied Palestinian territories, but he did commit himself to pursuing peace with Israel's neighbours. What really jumped out at me, though, was a single word in the following sentence:

"As president I intend to service with courage and kindness . . ."

Kindness? That just isn't a political word, is it? Politicians of the right occasionally talk about compassionate conservatism, at least when they are trying to get elected (after which they turn out to be Dick Cheney). And those to the left of centre are more than happy to use words like equality, opportunity and justice. But I can no more imagine a Blair, a Brown or a Cameron talking about kindness than the Pope turning out to be a former member of the Hitler Youth. (Sorry, bad example.)

The lesson here: the power of a word in a place where your reader wouldn't expect to encounter it.