What granny said to Iain Paisley (and would probably say to Donald Trump)October 23rd, 2016
“I presume we can count on your support, Mrs Glenn”, the Rev Dr, Iain Paisley said to my granny while he was out canvassing one day. The Rev. Dr. was not wrong to assume he could count on support: after all, this was a DUP stronghold – the Fountain in Loyalist West Londonderry.
However, he hadn’t accounted for my granny.
“Reverend Paisley” she replied, shaking with nerves. “Do you remember the story of the wee boy and the jigsaw puzzle?”
A look of recognition came across his face. The story of the wee boy and the jigsaw puzzle was a story told in Presbyterian Sunday schools – and from pulpits – right across Northern Ireland.
“Yes, Mrs Glenn, I remember the story of the wee boy and the jigsaw puzzle” her replied, sheepishly.
Granny began to retell the story. The wee boy was given a jigsaw puzzle as a present. The puzzle had a picture of the world on one side and a picture of a man on the other. The boy tried to put the jigsaw puzzle together with the map of the world faced up. But try as he might, he couldn’t put it together. Eventually, he turned the jigsaw over so it had the picture of the man faced up. He now found the jigsaw fitted easily together.
“So, Rev. Paisley, what’s the moral of the tale, then?” granny asked pointedly.
The Rev. Dr. replied “you’ve got to get the man right before you get the world right”.
Granny looked him straight in the eye and said, pointedly “go and do thou likewise”.
So there my granny stood with one of the most notorious politicians in history, challenging him about his character. That whatever our policies or solutions for this world, we won’t be able to fix anything unless we first fix ourselves.
The Rev. Dr. left left with his tail between his legs and granny closed the door – and by her own account, was a quivering wreck. But when she told us this story, we wanted to give her a standing ovation.
I’ve thought a lot about granny in recent weeks as all the recent stories of Donald Trump have surfaced.
You see, granny didn’t just live with the distant fear of terrorism: its reality was on her doorstep every single day for decades. In the wake of Bloody Sunday, Londonderry was a warzone. When my parents got married in July 1972, you had to show ID to get into the city. Dad would often joke (darkly) that he visited seven shops to find a wedding tie and only one still stood by the end of the day. During their wedding service, the IRA shot at the church from the city walls. And the hotel in which they had their wedding reception was partially commandeered by the British government for an emergency summit. The Troubles dragged on for decades after this – and you never quite knew where a bomb would go off. But – as the remaining Protestant enclave in West Londonderry – there was a fair chance something would happen on the Fountain.
But granny wasn’t interested in measuring politicians by the brashness of their rhetoric. Neither was she interested in being used as a political football by those more interested in their own ego. She wanted real solutions that would provide lasting peace. She wanted to walk into town, or to church, without fear.
She would see that banning all Muslims from the USA was about as useful as an anti-terrorism strategy as banning all Catholics – or indeed all Protestants – from Northern Ireland. She would tell you that demonizing all Muslims was about as helpful as the Rev. Dr. Iain Paisley giving lengthy fiery sermons about the pope being the Anti-Christ.
And if you tried to convince her that voting Trump was somehow the “Christian” thing to do, she would probably tell you the story about the wee boy and the jigsaw puzzle.