Blessed Are the Peacemakers?

What hope exists of bridge-building in our polarised world?

Matthew Clapham
4 min readJun 16, 2024


A man stands with his back to the camera, and arms outstretched, in front of him a crowd in a park, wearing winter clothes. He seems to be imploring, or expressing bewilderment.
Photo by Nico Smit on Unsplash

June the 16th, 2016

British centre-left parliamentarian and peace campaigner Jo Cox is shot and stabbed to death in the street by a far-right extremist. In her maiden speech to parliament the previous year, she had proclaimed “We are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us”, a message of optimism and conciliation that her neo-Nazi murderer challenged in the most brutal possible way.

June the 16th, 2024

English football hooligans attack a group of Serbian counterparts with bottles, stones and chairs before the start of the football match between the two countries in the Euro 2024 international championship. A resurgence of the football-related violence that had supposedly been confined to the history books decades ago. A desperately painful reminder of the eighth anniversary of Cox’s death.

Extremism and polarisation seem increasingly to be the accepted norm rather than the aberrant exception in many western societies. Votes for more moderate centrist parties are on the decline both nationally and continent-wide in Europe, while rabble-rousing populists mount an increasingly successful insurgency…



Matthew Clapham

Professional translator by day. Writer of silly and serious stuff by night. Also by day, when I get fed up of tedious translations. Founder of Iberospherical.