Let’s talk about forgiveness, and what we need to do to earn it.
I’m sure I was not alone last week when I muttered dark curses about the four young men who decided to climb Ben Nevis in their trainers. They had no winter clothing, no mountaineering equipment and apparently no brain cells, because they undertook their adventure during a blizzard.
They were saved by Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team and airlifted to hospital. They’re fine now, and extremely apologetic.
So it was heartening to see the mountain rescue team, who seem to spend an alarming amount of their time saving idiots from themselves, calling for the public to “cut the guys a little bit of slack” and accepting their apology, which was accompanied by whisky, wine, chocolates and £200.
I’ll admit I can forgive most things if somebody buys me Ferrero Rocher, but the photo that Lochaber mountain rescue posted on Facebook also included a half-decent bottle of the Macallan, so I’m fully sold on clemency in this case and would even like to make friends with the four bampots concerned. Well played, boys.
In the 21st Century, it often feels like everybody carries more data processing power in their pocket than between their ears, and every misanthropic Neanderthal is equipped to attack reputations quicker than you can say “information superhighway”.
Of course, some things are unforgiveable. There are obvious extremes that will tarnish a human forever, and rightly so. And I’m not keen on the now-ubiquitous phrase “cancel culture”, which is being used to weaponise arguments from people who need to have a good hard look at themselves. Let’s not waste sympathy on bullies, racists and perverts – and there’s no shortage of them out there. Pick your battles and fight them well.
But we all make mistakes, and I appreciated the sentiments expressed by the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team. Everybody’s been an idiot, and the test of our character is how we accept our mistakes, apologise, and learn from them. And, if you enjoy the hills, consider donating…and buy good boots.