VATCAN CITY — The Vatican said the death of Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi marked the end of a “harsh and oppressive regime” that was based on power instead of human dignity.It expressed hope that the bloodshed would end in the North African country, and that the new Libyan government would open a rebuilding phase based on “a spirit of inclusion” and social justice.
I can no longer stomach photos of Gadhafi; either the arrogant poses of the live dictator, or the gruesome, nauseating scenes of his death. The life and death of dictators reminds us of the troubling reality of their existence. Hussein, Bin Ladin and Gadhafi are now gone. How many remain? WHY and HOW do they remain in power when they are but one against the many?
How do the Hitlers and the Stalins of this world rise from often humble beginnings to such deadly and powerful heights? Eventually their power is held by brutality, impossible to challenge without risk of death. But somewhere in the early stages, someone had to be supporting their efforts. Not just someone, but many someones. Did these supporters recognize that moment when power became crazed? Is it possible that so many lacked the basic human virtues that require caring for those you lead, not impoverishing them? Not starving them? Not slaughtering them?
Whenever I grumble about some of our church leaders, my husband reminds me that we give them the power. While we may call their style dictatorial, there is no comparison with the blood-thirsty despots of the world. We have a voice and can use it to shout out when the emperor has no clothes or is just plain acting like a twit. Sure, there might be consequences but our lives are never at risk. We have much in our democratic society that we take for granted. And for those who are given much, much is expected in return.