Things Worth Dying For

>  Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Pakistan, returned to her country yesterday after 8 years of self-imposed exile. Although warned to delay the return based upon intelligence that indicated her life was in jeopardy, Ms. Bhutto proceeded as planned. The arrival brought the anticipated attempt on her life and, although she was not harmed, over 100 of her supporters were killed and hundreds more wounded when a suicide bomber detonated explosives in the throngs that greeted her motorcade.
    The ire directed towards the former Prime Minister has to do with who her perceived friends are. She is seen as a friend of the West, and, therefore, an enemy of those forces in the Middle East and Europe who are bent on imposing world-wide, terrorist-based Islamic rule.
    While much can be said for Ms. Bhutto, it is her followers and supporters that deserve our attention and respect. Every person who publicly turned out to greet her knew, with certainty, they were risking their life to do so. But like Ms. Bhutto, they refused to be intimidated or cowered into denying who they chose as “friend.”
    Bullies are as old as humankind. It’s one of our less attractive qualities.  They exist and are evident as early as kindergarten. Some children will try, by sheer force of will or body, to make another child do or say or be the way they want them to be. And too often, this approach works. The practice doesn’t stop as we get older…it just becomes more subtle…more socially acceptable. In middle school, high school and college it can most often be seen as the will of the “clique” or the hierarchy of peers or the criteria for acceptance into a sorority or fraternity. Whatever the means, the message is clear: conform or be rejected and ostracized.
    The potential for the acting out of this less than admirable human quality, in it’s extreme, is seen in acts of war. Children growing up with the quality unchecked and lacking conscience, who gain access to either political or military power, have the opportunity to escalate, exponentially, the force by which they try and impose their will upon others.   
    Threat of death is a powerful motivator.
    We are not so surprised when a former Head of State such as Benazir Bhutto faces down the threat of death and proceeds based upon her beliefs. What is amazing, and needs to be lauded, is the determination and courage exhibited by her followers who faced the threat of death to support what and who they believe in.
    The bullies are among us. They have a committed, albeit perverted, determination to impose their will upon us. They think they can tell us what to believe and around whom to rally. They think the threat of harm and the specter of death is all they need to cower us into submission.
    There is no darkness that is not extinguished by light. The way to battle the bullies is not with might. It is not to meet them on the battlefield of their choosing and, by so doing, become them.
  The bullies hide their identity and cloak themselves in darkness. The way to beat the bullies is to give energy to the Light. The way to prevail is to, at every opportunity, stand up for what is the best that humankind is capable of achieving. The way to prevail is to understand that when you feed anything you give it power.
    Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize recipient Eli Wiesel said the thing he learned in the Concentration camps was that “you do not give evil energy.” By keeping your thoughts, words and actions behind that which elevates the human condition you will be nurturing and powering the best of us.
    If you’re wondering what that looks like, it was the scene in Pakistan yesterday.
    While the terrorists and the media would have us distracted by the mayhem, blood and destruction there, I saw only the Light.
    Some things, you see, are worth dying for.

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