Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Today's Gospel is the parable of the sower, but in the context of recent events I am put in mind of the verses from Galatians about reaping what you sow. I am talking about Gadafy. If ever a man reaped what he sowed it was he. After 42 years of presiding over a murderous regime he was finally and bloodily brought down. Not only that, but his refusal to accept that it was over brought death down on his head and on the heads of many of his followers, including several of his own immediate family. If he had fled, either to the Hague to face justice, or to some third country which was willing to offer him asylum, much of this could have been avoided.

So no tears for Gadafy. And yet, there is much about recent events that make me uncomfortable. I am uneasy when someone is captured alive, and then minutes later is shot dead. The claim is that he was killed in the crossfire between his forces and those who overthrew him, and that may well be true, but it is a claim with the whiff of vigilante justice hanging over it.

What has followed his death is nothing less than grotesque. His death may have been accidental, but this is deliberate. His corpse, now visibly decomposing, stinking, and leaking fluids on display as people jubilantly file by in a horrible parody of 'lying in state' is in blatant disregard of the respect that is due to the dead body of anyone. All through human history we find evidence of the deep rooted need to treat human remains with dignity and respect. What is happening in Libya not only is a violation of that natural impulse, but also of the religious laws that the people who overthrew Gadafy claim to follow.

It is not a good start to the new regime in that country. It makes me wonder if what follows the death of this man will be much better than what came before it. Gadafy presided over a brutal and bloody oppression of his people. It took a long time, but finally he reaped what he had sown. Those who brought him down should learn from that and make a fresh start in which everyone's rights are respected, including the rights in death that are due to all, even a hated dictator. If they do not, perhaps the day will come when they also reap what they have sown. I can only pray that they do not find that by neglecting their duties and obligations to others it is their own rights they have undermined.

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