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.
via Vatican: Gadhafis death marks end of harsh and oppressive regime | National Catholic Reporter.
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.
Check out this little snippet about Congressman Anthony Weiner at Lorette Lavine`s blog. She posted an excerpt from Weiner`s own web-site promoting his participation in passing the “KIDS (Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators) Act of 2007, a bill to require sex offenders to register their e-mail and instant message addresses with the National Sex Offender Registry.” It’s a laudable act. It also shows the glaring disconnect between his public work and his private life. Lavine challenges Weiner to explain his recent actions to those closest to him.
The indiscretions of yet another politician are reason enough to be disgusted. But the ongoing debate over whether the indiscretions are sufficient reason to suggest his resignation shows the continued lowering of moral standards for our leaders. Do we have the right to judge the behaviour between two consenting adults? In an age of chat-rooms and twitter accounts Clinton’s famous line, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” takes on a life of its own. This line of defense is now used in evermore creative situations. And there is the argument that our society has changed and our leaders are only human. We should not expect them to live up to some ideal, unattainable standards.
It is imperative that we do not continue lowering our moral standards. To do so is to take away from the dignity of each human being. We can either believe that we are inherently good, yet struggle with evil. Or we can believe that we are inherently evil, struggling to be good. The former acknowledges that we are capable of living a life of integrity, despite our human weakness and failures. The latter believes that human weakness is the norm, therefore we shouldn’t expect too much from ourselves or others. This will result in the bar getting lower and lower. Eventually it will be poetically sitting in the dirt.
Is it too much to expect our leaders to live an honest and good life? Is it too much to expect from anyone?
I married a good man. He is obsessively honest in both his personal and professional life. The dental world is bombarded with marketing experts promoting strategies to convince patients that they need high-end treatments. He refuses to use his profession as a money making machine. He believes the only marketing needed in healthcare is prevention focused. He has never tried to defraud patients, insurance companies, or the government. (He will not even bring home a roll of paper towels from the office unless he replaces it.) He is a faithful and loving father and husband.
Why is he like this? His answer…at the end of the day, I have to be able to sleep at night.
Credibility must be earned. Our morals and ethics must form a seamless garment in all that we do – both publically and privately. There are many good and honest women and men in this world. Our leaders should be looking up to them for an example of how to live a life of integrity.
Catholics have a realistic view of suffering as part of our human existence. While we do our best to alleviate our pain and that of others, sometimes we are forced to face our own powerless. There is nothing to do but accept it. Our acceptance is not a fatalistic surrender. It is given a deeper meaning and purpose through our belief in the redemptive power of suffering.
We believe that the ultimate act of redemption was the passion and death of Jesus. We display and wear crosses, a hated symbol of execution in Roman times, as a sign of our belief. We speak of Good Friday, not Dark Friday. It was through suffering and death that we are freed from sin and given a promise of eternal life. It’s the ultimate paradox.
We are taught that we, too, can unite our own suffering with that of Jesus. By doing so, our suffering becomes a prayer and a sacrifice – for ourselves and for others. Suffering is no longer meaningless, but is offered up in faith and hope. We are able to tap into the potentiality for good in the midst of evil.
Some persons of faith believe so strongly in the redemptive power of suffering that they impose it upon themselves. I cringed at the penitential excesses portrayed so graphically in The Da Vinci Code. Yes these excesses exist, but please don’t associate all Catholics with a disturbed, fictional albino monk!
Penitential acts, done within reason, are part of our Catholic faith. But I don’t believe we need to seek out suffering or intentionally impose it upon ourselves. Our human condition guarantees that suffering will be a part of our lives, in one degree or another. Freedom from suffering is called heaven. Until we get there, may we all have the spiritual courage and strength we need on the journey.