Historical Moments

I am rubbish at those ‘where were you when’ questions. It wasn’t until the other day that I was reminded we were returning early in the morning from Phil Bigland’s  wedding when we heard about the death of the Princess of Wales. Therefore, it’s best that I record I was living and working in the shadow of the Hindu Kush when Prince William married Kate Middleton, with Harry as his best man and just a few days later Osama Bin Laden was killed.

The photos are chosen to capture the reactions from different communities. Now, let’s assume for the sake of argument that the West is developed. Not a point of view I ascribe to as it happens. We are supposedly the enlightened ones who model to the ‘developing’ world civilised behaviour (sic). Now imagine someone you loved died. How would you react if your neighbour threw a party to celebrate, coming out into the street to metaphorically dance on your loved ones’ grave.

Imagine the Muslim world’s confusion if we had mourned the death of Osama. That we recognised that while he was evil and deserved to be brought to justice, his death is no cause for rejoicing. Osama had family who have lost a husband and father, he has followers, many innocent, who loved him, and these people are grieving. Are you comforted by his death?

How would you react to someone throwing a party to celebrate your grief? Resentment perhaps. An inclination to seek retribution? Why is it that throughout human history we fail to consider consequences? We go crazy in the moment and often pay a price that we can ill afford.

These are people who support the flying of airliners packed with passengers into areas of dense population. You dance in the streets at the death of Osama and you are behaving at a level they empathise with. And they are likely to respond in the way they know, revenge. It is only right that the President and his team look concerned. 

Had we responded with compassion, with acknowledgement of the loss, and with an appeal for reconciliation to end wasted lives then we may have helped quelled the fire in our adversaries bellies, not stoke the flame of conflict. There may still be a chance. Let’s ask, what’s the wise thing to do? Discuss.

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