Norman Kember, the British peace worker kidnapped in Iraq with Tom Fox, the American who was murdered by their captors, and two Canadian colleagues, was interviewed on the radio a couple of days ago.
The media picked up and repeated endlessly two quite predictable things he said (approximate quotations only):
Do you think you underestimated the risk of kidnap? Yes, we probably did.
How did you feel about the SAS group that rescued you? I was grateful. It's ironic, of course - me, a pacifist who disapproves of the army, owing my life to men from the SAS, the most violent group of all. But of course I was happy to see them and am grateful.
I wondered if I'd heard the same interview. How grossly the media fail sometimes. What lingered in my mind was the quality of the man. How he didn't try to impress or justify, but quietly told the facts, with no care for making an impression.
No passionate stating of his case, but only 'Most Iraqis are fine people. We felt so sorry for them, and wanted them to know that.'
Most strikingly, no impulse to manage his own image, to make himself the hero of a story. How many of us could resist that? How many of us would have said, ruefully, when asked about his relationship with fellow captives, 'Well, this isn't very nice, but after a while [after several weeks of days spent sitting in a row, backs to a wall, handcuffed together], I couldn't bear the Canadians' accent - I expect they felt the same about mine'.
His simplicity touched my heart. I think I will remember Norman Kember. I keep hearing his dry, undramatic voice and how it gave way, when asked about his wife, to silence and a gulping sob.
¶ 10:27 am
I had the great honor of hearing Terry Waite speak a few years ago. A man who knowingly walked into a situation where he was likely to be taken captive, because he hoped he could do some good. I will never forget him, his realness was deeply touching.