Sunday, May 8, 2011

Eye for an eye...

I posted this (below) yesterday and then removed it. I was concerned that it might offend. But through yesterday's rain, and as I walked around the foreshore track this morning in moist sunshine, I decided I was wrong to remove it. That it is no more than one perspective amongst many and that it is by putting out our thoughts that we begin to talk and hopefully understand.

There is a horizontal southerly rain outside. Very heavy. I am sitting by the fire. Tabby and Van are curled up asleep in their blanket-lined baskets, even closer to the fire than I am. Leonard Cohen is singing in the background. I am hoping optimistically that a break in the rain might enable me to slip-slide down the hill to feed the chooks.

But the reason for clicking on 'New Post' is to ponder out loud about something that has bothered me the last few days. It is something I have felt silenced about and am unsure even now if I want to say what I am thinking - but here goes.

My dis-ease is around the death of Osama bin Laden, the global responses to his death and the media coverage. It has felt like a feeding frenzy. An Old Testament 'eye for an eye'... Revenge but not justice. Maybe if I had lost family in the twin towers or in the Bali bombings or in the London underground ...  I would feel the need for 'payback'. But my preference is always to ask why. Why Al Qaeda? Why the Taleban? I'm not sure that we (the 'West') have a good track record in the Middle East. We have interfered too often in the past. We have supported corrupt and violent regimes when it suited us. We even supported Al Qaeda when the Russians were in Afghanistan. Just as it is possible to link the rise of fascist Germany to the Versailles peace treaty, so perhaps we need to acknowledge our culpability in the emergence of fundamentalist, militant Islam. 

There, I have poked my head above the parapet - and now I will move from the global to the very local, brave the rain and feed the poor, bedraggled chooks.

This morning I listened to a very good interview on Radio New Zealand. It was that, plus Niki's prompting that encouraged me to repost. Here are the details of the interview.
10:06 James Fergusson - Inside the TalibanAs a foreign correspondent, James Fergusson covered the Taliban for years and got to know many within the organisation, and how it ticks. He talks to Chris about how the Taliban is rooted in Pashtun culture, its mission to drive foreign invaders from Afghanistan, the relationship with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, and how the West's bid to win Afghan "hearts and minds" is doomed to failure.
James Fergusson is based in Edinburgh and will be in New Zealand next week, to speak at the Auckland Writers & Readers'Taliban' by James Fergusson, is published by Bantam Press.


  1. Not offensive to this house. In fact, when I saw the tag for your eye for an eye title, then saw that it was removed, I actually wondered if it might have been something about this issue. Many here seem elated about bin Laden's death, and while I am reviled by the death and destruction he caused, I have a hard time feeling elation over his killing---for the same reason you suggest---that it feels more like revenge than justice, and what is to stop the escalating revenge? It is like adding fuel to the fire---an exacerbation of the problem. I was at least relieved to know that Obama will not release the photos, because it does seem they would incite inappropriate celebrations on the part of some, and escalation of revenge on the part of others. Then there is the truth we must all acknowledge, that the work of the Taliban has become much larger and viral than the original source, and the killing of an early leader can only intensify the spreading movement. Like you, my husband and I just had a conversation about the U.S. government's responsibility in much of this, for selling arms to alQaeda against the Russian invasions. I have no answers, only questions, but do know I agree that it doesn't feel okay to celebrate the news of the past week, for fear of what it means to all of our futures.

    Your chooks are lucky to have you and not me as their caretaker! I'd have a hard time forcing myself out into the rain.

  2. Thank you Debby for your affirmation and your thoughtful fleshing out of the issue. It does seem that the tidal wave sweeping North Africa, fronted by young people demanding greater freedom/democracy, may be the way of the future... Movements from within rather than imposition from without.

    Strangely (perhaps) I would love to visit Afghanistan, Iran. Iraq...such ancient cultures and landscapes.

  3. Thanks Jane for your thoughts. I struggled with the rejoicing in Bin Laden's death - it just didn't feel right. But I liked a quote sent to me by a friend in USA and this gave me a better perspective: "I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.. Sally

  4. Oh, I am so glad you posted the Martin Luther King quote Sally. That is worth holding on to. Thank you!

  5. Thanks Sally for that quote---and thank goodness for poets like MLK to remind and inspire us to higher order thinking!

  6. Hi Debby. Niki tells me a comment of yours went missing from here. Blogger was down the other day and a number of comments have been mysteriously erased. Just didn't want you to think that I had been 'editing' comments on my blog!!!