Posts Tagged ‘Revenge’
It is not often that I find myself agreeing with a Catholic cardinal. They are usually much more intent on defending Vatican politics than acting according to the ethics of the Christian god, Jesus Christ. Regrettably most Christian laypeople are no better. They haven’t a clue what Christ taught because they never read what the gospels have to say about him, and take all their directions regarding morality from their priests and pastors, or more often from their relatives and friends.
Interviewed by BBC Scotland, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, has emphasized to that vast Christian country, the USA, that they ought to act with Christian morality if they are to claim to be a Christian country. He has agreed with the Scottish government that it was right to free Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the Libyan found guilty of bombing a civil aeroplane flying over Locherbie in Scotland, on grounds of compassion. He is suffering from terminal cancer.
270 innocent people on board Pan Am flight 103 were murdered when it was blown up over town of Lockerbie on 21 December 1988. The cardinal agrees it was “an act of unbelievable horror and gratuitous barbarity”, and that bereaved people have a right in civilized countries to expect justice for such a heinous crime.
Two Libyans were brought to trial over the attack, Kalifa Fhima and Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi who was found guilty and made to serve a lifetime sentence in Scotland, the country where the crime occurred. Justice seemed to be done. But after about ten years of incarceration Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer. To the chagrin of, it seems, most of the USA, the Scottish government agreed to the release of al-Magrahi on compassionate grounds. He was thought to have only three months to live.
The US since then has at all levels from the public through the media up to the political—congress—have been baying for some scapegoat, even demanding that the sovereign authorities of Scotland must appear before the Senate as if they were criminals, or, failing that, appearing before a Senate committee meeting in Scotland. The cardinal answers:
The Scottish government has made the decision and the Scottish government is answerable to the Scottish people—not the US government or US citizens. Everyone acted according to Scots law in releasing Megrahi on compassionate grounds, having taken medical advice. I still think they did the right thing, although the man is still alive. We shouldn’t be crawling out to America, or having them come here and questioning us on our own territory.
The Criminal, Justice and Parole Division of the Scottish Government earlier had said:
The perpetration of an atrocity should not be a reason for losing sight of the values people in Scotland seek to uphold and the faith and beliefs by which we seek to live the values of humanity and compassion.
Cardinal O’Brien thought it was a clash of cultures. Americans were focused only on retribution, but Scotland had a culture of care. Through their justice system, Scots have cultivated a culture of compassion, but many Americans had an attitude towards the concept of justice which amounted to a culture of vengeance:
In many states—more than half—they kill the perpetrators of horrible crimes, by lethal injection or even firing squad—I say that is a culture of vengeance. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth—that is not our culture in Scotland and I would like to think that the US government, and these states that do still have capital punishment, would learn something from us.
The Americans are not in good company in their eagerness to punish its citizens and others by the most severe sentences imaginable, including terminating human life—something they are excellent at, whether at home or abroad. Since 1976, 1,221 people have been executed in the US. Its execution rate is only outdone by Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran and China. In Iraq, international experts estimate a million innocent people have been murdered consequent upon the Bush invasion. A few decades back the figure in Vietnam was two million innocents, and in both places many continue to suffer today because of the utterly barbaric and inhuman methods used to secure victory.
Americans are good at revenge. What they are not good at is justice.
Cardinal O’Brien thinks it is in the midst of such inhuman barbarism, that we must affirm our humanity. In moments of grief and despair we must show the world that the standards of the murderer and his disdain for human life are not our standards. Though they plunge to the depths of human conduct, we will not follow them. Americans should “direct their gaze inwards” rather than fussing about the Scottish justice system.
Suspects are not guilty until proven to be, yet anyone “suspected” of terrorism, under the oppressive laws brought in by Bush and Blair in their respective countries, are assumed to be terrorists. Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter lost her life in the atrocity, and other British people who were bereaved in the bombing, were never satisfied that the trial of the Libyan suspects was fair. He wanted the trial to be held in Scotland precisely because in the USA…
…both men would be judicially executed by a system which operates perilously close to the doctrine that might is right, and that truth can be bought. Moreover, for those deemed to be the enemy of “God’s Own Country” the quality of the evidence against them might be less important than the opportunity for vengeance to be seen to be done—that death should be delivered summarily. Unfortunately the notion that God is on your country’s side has led men to commit so much malevolent slaughter down the ages that the whole name of religion can be criticized.
Swire knew Scottish justice was among the best judicial systems in the world.
Those who seem to lust for this man’s death should look not at the details of why he was released, but the question of whether he really was guilty… Meanwhile let us join with the Cardinal in giving thanks to our God if we admit One, that this man, who may well be innocent has not been judicially executed in our names.
The point Swire is making and that the Americans, baying for a victim rather than justice, ignore is that the evidence which condemned al-Magrahi was apparently bought by the US government. The chief witness linking al-Magrahi with the flight received $2 million for his exertions. Now, to people in the UK who, like Dr Swire, notice these things, something smells horribly foul. Al-Magrahi was released quite properly for compassionate reasons, but it looks very likely that he ought never to have been locked up in the first place. The outcry from the US then makes more sense—US perfidy and deceit might be, for once, exposed.
The GAP (Great American Public) never notice bad smells that the US government give rise to, even when it blows off in their faces. Americans are too angelic to be evil. And, in any case, the GCN (Great Christian Nation) simply has no idea of the teachings of Jesus Christ, and therefore no moral basis to judge—no Christian one, at any rate. The cardinal might have quoted the gospels:
Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.Matthew 18:21-22
Here is the GCN that will not forgive once, even for a dying man whose guilt is far from certain. Of course, the Christian will say forgiving seven times let alone seventy is pure stupidity. OK, but then you are not a Christian are you? Or they will complain it is too hard for a mere mortal, even if God can manage it. But Christ also said:
Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.Luke 6:36
Their own God, God the Son, directs them to be merciful just as their own God, God the Father, is in heaven. They just have no excuse at all. The clear implication is that they must be merciful if they expect God to show the mercy to them they expect post mortem. Even so, they will argue that their faith is sufficient, because their pastors tell them so, but these words of Christ are not just optional extras. They are imperatives—commands. Faith is not sufficient. Christians have to do things to be saved. Too bad they only listen to the TV evangelists who are in it for the bucks they get out of the ignorant. These are not Christians but the opposite.
It is novel, though, for a senior cleric to be pointing out the hypocrisy of the Great Christian Nation!