Friday, December 28, 2007

Untimely death observed

The news of Benazir Bhutto's death yesterday was the worst kind of news to wake up to in the quiet lull that follows the intensity of the Christmas celebration. The great Boxing Day Tsunami of three years ago was a similar occasion. It's been difficult to think of anything else since. The new wave of suffering and killing that will now be unleashed in reaction to a successful assassination attack. The whole world will wonder how Pakistan can be kept stable and prevented from destabilising the rest of world. The Tsunami was bad enough in terms of loss of life and the damage to communities and the econonomy throught South Asia, but nobody knows what might yet unfold from this killing.

At this morning's Eucharist, I prayed for Pakistan, and remembered her name during the prayers for the dead . It doesn't matter to me that she was a Muslim. She was also a wife and mother as well as a brave leader and inspirer of people. She may not have been the most wise or effective of political minds, but she was someone around whom all sorts of people could gather, and voice their hopes for a future free of violence and tyranny. Someone seeking the kingdom of God, according to her lights. Someone to give thanks for, despite her failings and failures.

If the reports are truthful, and Ms Bhutto died of a broken neck, sustained as a result of blast injury from the suicide bomber, then it was an unlucky error that killed her - risking putting her head out of the car to acknowledge her supporters, just at the wrong moment. But what a tragic irony, and contrast, when her father also died as his neck was broken by the hangman's noose in a judicial execution.

Looking at photographs of her over forty years of public life it struck me just how beautiful a woman she throughout her life. Not the pouting sexualised trivial sort of 'beauty' that degrades and demeans western womanhood in much of the media, but a physical beauty that expresses strength, dignity and courage - inspirational rather than seductive. The world needs more like her. But how will the men of violence be hindered from destroying more people who are the evidence of real human progress? The world sometimes seems full of people who just want to deface it, pollute it and strew it with their litter. Another young person murdered by stabbing in London today. Violence in whichever direction you look.

May Benazir Bhutto rest in peace. May Pakistan, and all the rest of the world find some way to stem the tide of violence.

I keep on repeating the mantra - 'Overcome evil with good'

No comments: