Posted by Stuart (126.96.36.199) on November 29, 2002 at 05:51:40:
In Reply to: Ossama Bin Laden posted by Nick Stone on November 24, 2002 at 09:42:29:
I wanted to make some additional, prefatory comments before I performed a full-scale skydive into this subject of good versus evil, vitms and victimizers, which seems here to stay:
In 1967, May, I was living in London, England with my wife and a son. My wife's father had been murdered in Auschwitz and she was an Israeli/Belgian. My son and myself (at that time) were Jewish. Hearing that a war was coming, I bought tickets on a Zim Boat from Marseilles to go to Israel. Not to fight, since Canadians were not permitted to join the army, Jewish or not, but to help, as in digging trenches and shelters. As it turned out, I found myself in Beer Sheba - south Israel - at the nexus of Egypt to the west and Jordan to the East.
Later I learned that the neighbourhood had a stockpile of weapons in case we would be over-run and even I, at that point, would have been expected to defend or die.
As a Canadian, too young for the second world war, I had no experience with War. I was frightened. I saw trucks of prisoners flowing through Beer Sheba from the Sinai desert and did not know that Israel has "won" the war until the end. My brother-in-law, a bio-engineer, returned with horror stories as did others.
After the war I visited the "conquered" territories, all of them. Golan, West Bank, Wailing Wall and West Jerusalem, Gaza, the Sinai. I met Palestinians who, in defeat, were warm and friendly, offering tea, and in good spirits.
One conversation will never be forgotten - I was in Hebron on the West Bank and we were with a group of Palestinian men, discussing the War. Their leader, an old man with a genuine grin and positive aura, said, "Ah, not to worry, you won this time, we'll get you next time, and if not, the time after that, or the time after that...".
He was not good or evil. He was a human entity caught in a historical saga that, for him had no end. His God, Allah, had decreed a battle between Jews and Palestinians with no time line, except that he did believe that within a few hundred years, they would prevail and the Jews would be swept into the sea.
As for atrocities and recriminations - both sides confessed to excesses but never with shame or guilt. Throwing babies into wells was a delight for some Israeli soldiers; the occasional Israeli casualty was cause for a parade. The murder of Israeli civilians was a "Praise to Allah!"
The grief of the Israelis, then as now, seemed to me to be based on their self-perception of minority, of siege, of being outnumbered on all sides and that the salvation of their country was always a miracle, and the loss of a single soldier or civilian was the loss of someone whom hundreds knew and mourned for, because of the small population. The same is true today.
I had been and am a passionate student of European History and of Israel, from the early beginnings of Zionism in the 19th century to the present. I have two sons in Israel and a former wife. I am married for 25 years now to a French Canadian Baha'i. My 'best" friend is a Baha'i Palestinian who won the Nobel Prize as part of the Doctors without Borders Peace award. As I have mentioned, Germans have always been a part of my life and among my dearest friends, from teen years on to the present.
I even had the honor of having a Zoroaster in one of my small Yoga classes - fascinating.
To try and understand historical events and hopefully learn from them what to do and not do for peace, is good. To know who is a tyrant and be unafraid to say so, is good. To ally oneself with either a tyrant or his foe, is unacceptable. Every defensive reaction resulting in the death of men and women is wrong. The term, defensive, is translated into offensive by the victimized side. All murder is offensive, morally and spiritually. This does not mean we should not listen, learn, and do everything we can to ascend Peace. But once we pick a side, we become part of the problem, not a solution.
To say, ONLY three thousand people died on 9/11, do you know how many babies starve to death in Africa every day? is incompatible thinking. The world is so fragmented that caterers offer bottles of pure water to
emissaries of the struggle against poverty. Not only water, but sumptuous banquets. Persons and groups throughout the world perform their daily acts according to the historical circumstances that brought them to the place of their actions. And if we view the world as a whole, it is Babel, it is Sodom and Gomorrah, it is the Roman Circus, it is the hordes of Barbarians storming the Roman Empire. Every imaginable atrocity is being committed somewhere at this moment somewhere.
As Bahai's we must stand against tyranny, but who determines who is the tyrant? To the Arabs, Jews and Americans are infidels, deserving of death. To the Jews and Americans, suicide bombers and other assassinators are the guilty, the first causes of death. The retaliations that follow are for "Liberty and Democracy".
The moment Baha'i decides to take a side, to ally itself with the Libertarian Democrats - who have created the most Godless, Hedonistic, corrupt, anti-religious societies in history - or to ally itself with the sad martyrs of Muslim, our history is over.
We must maintain the High Moral Ground set for us by The Gate, the Bounteous Beauty, and all their descendants. Certainly, we can condemn murder but we must strive for the day when the world will be governed not by the United Nations - a political body - but by a Moral Body to which the world body is subject.
Every human life is sacred. The evil and the good. The sinners and the pure. All are the Children of God caught in some place and time in History that presents moral challenges with lessons we will never understand.
I do not condemn any person, no matter how horrible the act. I do not hate Hitler or Stalin or Sadam or Osama Bin Laden. I love them and pray for their salvation, for a miraculous transformation toward Goodness, mercy, peace, love, forgiveness.
In my own life I am imperfect. So imperfect that I do not count myself better than Hitler despite that I have killed no-one. Yet, killing or not killing is not the only dimension of morality. There are so many ways to be the Imperfect Servant! Recite the Long Obligatory Prayer in private and pierce its meaning openly and honestly. It is a great and profound confession of personal imperfection. No, I am not a tyrant, perhaps because History did not place me in a position of tyranny. But when I ask myself whether, should I have been put into the flesh and bone of Bin Laden, would I be different, I would not dare answer, No.
To see the world in its descension is tragic beyond tears and lamentation. Yet, it is God's Plan - All is God's Plan - and we must restrain ourselves and maintain the Holy and Most Beautiful place that Baha'u'llah has given us. A Divine Morality that, however difficult it is to follow, we must always transcend the particular and bow before the Will of God, performing our obligations as prescribed by our Teachers, which in no wise permit us to judge, to be partisan, to ally ourselves with the forces of Liberty or those of Tyranny, for both are evil, causing death to their own innocents and to the innocents of the world.
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