“We Came, We Saw, He Died!” These words uttered by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are a triumphant celebration of Libyan Dictator Colonel Gaddafi’s death. The so called “Mad Dog of the Middle East” ruled by terrorizing his own subjects. Torture and execution as well as using rape as a policy of war were characteristic of the way Gaddafi maintained control over his countrymen. Mummar was both deadly and capricious. In contrast to the poverty he inflicted upon his own people, Gaddafi lived like only an oil-rich Middle Eastern man could.
Oddly, at death Gadaffi seemed such a pathetic creature who was somehow less than human. Photographs show a beaten, bloodied man who at best resembled a shadow of himself. Men in street clothes and undershirts sporting automatic rifles are shown supporting and dragging him to places he did not wish to go. His hair was matted with sweat and blood; his face testified to crushing blows to the head. The mob of men surrounding him seemed to have taken great pleasure in inflicting as much hatred as they could with their fists and shaming him in ways that the Arab world will likely never forget. In his final moments, the Mad Dog begged for mercy. How is it that a man who showed no mercy could beg for it? I suppose no matter how evil we become, we are still, at least on some level, human.
After his death, the revolutionaries went wild looting the palaces and compounds owned by the not so royal family. One man was photographed wearing the Colonel’s ceremonial wheel cap with gold braiding. Another captured a man boldly sporting the expired dictator’s personal handgun with a jeweled coat of arms on the stock. Cars, homes, and bank accounts were seized by the Libyan people. Upon his death, Gadaffi ceased to wield the power he used as a club during life.
I’ve never been to Libya, but I did spend several months in India when I was young. There are impressions that have never left me. When I recall that time, I remember the heat was so unbearable that the very ground seemed as though it had spent several days in a pottery kiln. I’ll never forget just how many people there were and how different their concept of space is. People pressed in on us and handled us as though we were fruit at a vegetable stand. Literally, strangers would come up to me and pull the hair on my arms amazed by it. They even yanked at my hair to see if it was attached not even considering that I might feel pain. I’ll never forget the flies! They were absolutely everywhere and there was no way to keep them out of any space. If I stood still for any length of time, they would land on me as though I was already dead and ripe for the eating. Above everything else, I remember how prevalent death was. Early in the morning, a dump truck would comb the streets picking up the bodies of ignoble people who may not have even had one person on earth to remember them.
When I saw the pictures of Gaddafi’s demise, I immediately looked at the landscape and soil. It brought to mind sights and smells that I haven’t experienced in over 20 years. As I looked closer at those last images, I could see in several frames that Mummar was trying to hold himself up by bracing with one of his arms. Gaddafi surrounded, under siege. He seemed stooped and utterly exhausted. For some reason, I couldn’t help but wonder if that was how Jesus looked before he was crucified. I can’t erase the thought that Jesus also died in a similar region surrounded by people who were celebrating his death. I can imagine the crush of people pressing in to see if he was dead yet. I can hear the swarm of flies attracted by the smell of blood.
If we fast forward two millenia and compare, we can see that Gaddafi lived an evil life; Jesus lived a sinless one. Gadaffi made himself king among men; Jesus made himself a man though he was a king. Both men were beaten to a bloody pulp and ridiculed by the masses of people around them. The possessions of each man were taken by those seeking souvenirs. Yet, in death Gaddafi begged for mercy from his captors while Jesus prayed mercy FOR his captors. Most importantly, Gadaffi’s power ended at death, while the true power of Jesus Christ was revealed when he overcame death.
Amen and Glory to God in the Highest!