During this brisk week in October, a clear transition into autumn at FA was contrasted by another transition in the Middle East. The latest expression of what is being called the “Arab Spring” went viral on the Internet. The killing of the notoriously cruel Libyan dictator, Mouammar Gaddafi, was broadcast to the entire world. Filmed and uploaded by a Libyan bystander, the video shows the former dictator being dragged out of a sewer pipe in his hometown of Sirte, where he was hiding in an attempt to avoid this gruesome fate. His death marks the end to a decades old brutal regime.
The interesting part is that despite the thousands of American troops that have been sent to the region by the United Nations, Gaddafi wasn’t captured and killed by American soldiers. He was violently beaten, tortured, and killed by his own people. Eyewitnesses said that Gaddafi was pleading for his life during his final moments, and that he was later shot by his bodyguard to put an end to his suffering. It was an ironic ending for such a greedy dictator, who was infamously unconcerned about the lives of others. Evidence shows that he apathetically starved, shot, and buried his own people in mass graves. Nevertheless, he lived a life of luxury in lavish palaces and homes, which have been captured on film in the past months after the people overran them. Impoverished Libyans sprawled across Gaddafi’s fancy couches was a memorable sight to many, featured in many news broadcasts around the world. Yet, Gaddafi did not let the people forget his power, for even when he was captured, he was carrying a gun made of pure gold.
Gaddafi was a man who for forty-two years ruled with violence, promoted violence, and allegedly supported Al Qaeda and Hamas (Al Qaeda and Hamas are terrorist organizations that routinely kill innocent civilians). In an effort to hold power, Gaddafi’s forces killed innocent Libyan civilians. Yet, the violent, brutal ending of a violent, brutal man was calmly uploaded onto the Web. The filming of his death was uploaded as casually as we post silly videos on You Tube.
Questions and thoughts unfold: is it acceptable for us as innocent bystanders to watch the senseless killing of another human being? Even though Gaddafi was a senseless, harsh man himself, should we treat him in the same way he treated us? Is it “right”? Either way, people genuinely love revenge. Understandably so, for the Libyans have every right to celebrate the death of their destructive Dictator. But maybe our Quaker community should showcase another key point. Let us not emulate Gaddafi by any means, let us not become a society where we go out and seek revenge, and let us not torture someone because he/she tortured others.
Although we should not try to emulate the behavior of both Mouammar Gaddafi and his avengers, the death of Gaddafi is a fantastic step forward for the ever-revolutionary Middle East. The Libyan people can now take the government into their own hands. Let us hope that Libya’s government evolves into one lacking a dictator, and one with sensible laws that promote equality, and peace.