30 March 2014

Progress and reform, the children of the Reformation and Enlightenment, the twin beacons of civilised modernity, is not a grand march but a plod with sudden dramatic dashes. Lest we exult, remember it was only in 1697 that Thomas Aikenhead was hanged in Edinburgh for dissing Christianity and we abolished slavery in the Empire only in 1833 and horrors went on here after that.

Nevertheless, we do progress: little boys are no longer shoved up chimneys and women are no longer the chattels of their husbands. The list is long and impressive. Of course we differ in how to realise the conflicting specifics of fraternity, liberty, and egality, but they are the defining standards against which we measure our society.

From 29 March 2014 homosexuals in Britain (but not Northern Ireland) are able to solemnise their committed relationship as marriage. This is a good day for people and equality and love. Civilisation grows. Progress and reform dash.