In the middle of all the tears and the razzmatazz following the death of Nelson Mandela there was one small handshake that could change the lives of millions.
For Barack Obama shook the hand of Raoul Castro. (Why am I writing about this now - because I'm off to Cuba in the New Year, and so I've kept an eye or two on Cuban news in recent months).
There has been no official diplomacy between America and Cuba for almost sixty years ... and here's where I have a question. I understand that countries fall out, that harsh words may be said and even bombs dropped. I understand that it takes time for people to lick their wounds, to sulk, to huff and puff and generally declare everlasting loathing. But at the end of the day, conflicts are solved by talking.
I know Nelson Mandela was exceptional, that it took time for both sides in South Africa to understand that they were locked in a mutually destructive way of being and to set up Reconciliation Committees, to admit the horror of what had happened and bring people together. Countries in the Former Yugoslavia are now reconciled to each others' independence. Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland continue to work towards peace. Americans are even, quietly, talking with the Taliban. The Syrians will, eventually have to meet around a table.
So how come it's taken sixty years after a silly scrap for Cuba and America to be brave enough to risk the one small handshake that might lead to some sort of reconciliation? Why did nobody sit them in the naughty corner till they both said sorry?