Friday, the 21st of October was supposed to be the real "last day of earth" according to the crazy fundamentalist preacher Harold Camping. However, we did not hear much about him like we did during the week leading up to his May 21st "rapture date". Perhaps that was a slow news week while this past week has been a busy news week, with the Republican debate and the killing of Muamar Gadhafi in Libya.
Since that May rapture date, Camping has not been seen and the news reports that he had suffered a stroke. Not to sound like a cold fish, but "GOOD!" Charlatans make me sick and when I hear about people quitting their jobs and spending their entire savings to help spread Camping's fear-based doomsday messages, I get angry. A lot of this might have to do with having a gullible brother who has fallen time and again for charlatans and swindled out of his money on get rich quick schemes and going to churches that preach doomsday scenarios. There are naive people out there, looking for something to believe in and they have no ability to gauge deceit. As my brother had once asked me, "How do you know when someone's lying?" For me, its just a gut level feeling / instinct. Its like my mind can gauge deceit based on a person's body language, what they say, and what I know. Knowledge really is power. Because I know the basic beliefs and practices of various religious groups, I'm able to use this information against potential missionaries and proselytizers.
A part of me can't help think that maybe there is a spiritual reason for Camping's stroke. I'm not saying that all people who have a stroke are being punished, just that I find it curious that Camping had one in the aftermath of nothing happening on May 21st like he swore it would. He was absolutely certain that it would happen. Guaranteed it. There is a price to pay for deception, especially on a scale as this one was. I wonder how it felt for him to know that one man had quit his job and cashed out his entire retirement savings to buy billboard ads telling people to get right with God before the day of reckoning came. This is money he cannot get back. Will this foolish man live in poverty during his retirement years?
I'm glad that there weren't any reports of people going into hysterics about the potential for the end of the world. I can't help but wonder if its because Camping lost such credibility that he has no supporters / followers left. He is like the boy who cried wolf. The preacher who cried Armageddon! I also hope that there won't be a mass hysteria in the week leading up to December 21, 2012 (the last day of the final Mayan calendar that has inspired dozens of books in the past few years). The world is not going to end. The predictions of Nostradamus extends way into the 3000s. So relax!
I saw the above picture in a Google search and just had to "steal" it for this occasion. I love it!
What I do find interesting, though, is that May (the date of the rapture, according to Camping) saw the death of Osama bin Laden. So, the world did end for him in May.
Now we come to October, the date of the actual end of the world according to Camping, and we see the death of another Middle Eastern supporter of terrorism, Muamar Gadhafi. I wonder if these things are related / connected. You think? Quick, we need a new doomsday date so we can go after Assad of Syria!
The big news of the week, of course, is the death of Muamar Gadhafi on Thursday. Though his government had fallen to the rebel forces weeks ago, it was only a matter of time before the coward was found. Like his fellow dictatorial brother (metaphorically speaking, of course) Saddam Hussein, who was found in a spider hole, Gadhafi was found in a sewage pipe. What is up with these cowards? There was video footage of his capture. I watched it and felt nauseous. Not that I have sympathy for a brutal dictator, but I was shocked to see a man with blood all over his face and looking like he was on drugs or something, unaware of where he was. The video did not actually show the shooting, but his golden gun was seized (who knew that he fancied himself a Bond villain?) and his last words were supposedly: "What did I ever do to you?"
What an amazing last question to ask before bullets rip through your brain! Was he not aware of how his brutal grip on power for over 40 years affected all the Libyans who lived under his rule? The people he massacred over the years were somebody's father, brother, son, mother, sister, daughter, cousin, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, friend, lover, spouse. The end that came for Gadhafi was karmic. Not that I agree with his immediate killing. Like the announcement that Osama Bin Laden had been located and killed by special forces, I was unsettled to hear about these deaths because both men needed to face a war crimes tribunal. They needed to be charged for their crimes and have the case made against them in a court of law for the entire world to watch. Only after the trial concludes and a guilty verdict rendered would a death penalty be justified. I know that some prefer no death penalty and I believe that God probably does not want humans to kill other humans, no matter how evil they are, but on a personal level, I do think the death penalty is appropriate for people who have committed mass murder, such as Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and Muamar Gadhafi. It would be interesting if the three of them are in a hellish spiritual realm, being tormented by the demons that have attached themselves to these three individuals, who helped create hell on earth.
In the mid-1990s, I wrote an essay about karma in the real world. I was inspired to write it when I had read that Saddam had slept in a different place each night because he feared getting assassinated. What was the point of power if you live in fear? Both Saddam and Gadhafi came to power in a coup, killing the previous leader. For Gadhafi, it was in 1969, for Saddam, it was 1979. They both wore military uniforms and ruled with an iron fist, creating a cult of personality with their picture on the currencies and their face everyone you look in Iraq and Libya. There was no escape from the eyes of these two brutal dictators.
Between the two brutal men, Saddam was probably the scarier menace. Gadhafi was crazy and had some interesting personality quirks. He had called Condoleezza Rice his "African Princess" and wrote her love letters and made a scrapbook about her. In one of the articles I read, Gadhafi said that he loved seeing Condoleeza tell Arab leaders what to do. Apparently, that gave him a hard on. Creepy. Gadhafi also tried to be buddies with President Barack Obama, because of his African roots. The man was kooky, what can you say? Though he was probably the best dressed leader on the world stage, it is a good thing that he is gone. One less evil in the world. That it came the day before Camping's "end of the world" prediction just made it all the more sweeter. Yes, the end of the world did come. For Gadhafi! Good riddance, crazy one. Hope you burn in hell until your karmic debt is burned away (however long that will take). I hope those who will form a new government in Libya will embrace a democracy rather than another autocratic dictator. It seems like the Arab world prefers strong, authoritarian leaders than democracies with term limits on power. For the Arab spring to be successful, they have to transition to more democratic governments.
It was interesting to read the reaction of Republicans to this latest foreign policy success for our President Barack Obama. Some have gone so far as to praise FRANCE for this operation!!! FRANCE!!! Remember, Republicans were so hateful of the French in 1986 for not allowing American bombers to fly over their airspace from the United Kingdom on their way to bomb Gadhafi in retaliation for the Berlin disco bombings that were traced back to him. Also, in 2003 when France and Germany refused to support the Bush Administration's invasion of Iraq, the Republicans called the French "cheese eating surrender monkeys" and had the french fries that were served in the cafeterias in the U.S. Capitol building renamed "Freedom Fries" (never mind that French fries are Belgian in origin). I heard a lot of hatred of France from conservatives over the years and now, they are going to praise the French for the demise of Gadhafi?!? Really??? Well, I'm not buying it. They are only doing so because they hate Obama even more than they hate the French. They cannot bring themselves to admit that Obama's policy of leading from behind was the right call. They cannot admit that Obama has been more successful in foreign policy in just three years than Bush had been in eight. Sucks to be Republican right now! Their worldview is collapsing.
When my Young Professionals discussion group had the Libya military operation as a topic, I was one of few people who were in complete support of it. Among liberals, I felt like a minority on this issue, but I believed it was the right thing to do to prevent genocide. Had we not intervened, Gadhafi would have massacred the people who dared to rise up against him, being inspired by the way Tunisians and Egyptians were able to oust their leaders. We had seen this abandonment before: Kennedy's disastrous Bay of Pigs and Papa Bush's cutting short the Gulf War to a mere 100 hours of ground combat, which left the Shia rebellion around Basra vulnerable to Saddam's elite "Republican Guards." Also, after we helped the Mujahadeen defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan, we abandoned them which led to a power vacuum in which the Taliban came to power, a regime far worse than the Islamic radicals that rule Iran. It is simply bad karma to abandon people in their hour of need, leaving them to be slaughtered. So, I supported Obama's actions and am happy that it turned out well. The operation cost our country $1 billion and there was no American casualties. I believe when historians look back and compare the policies of Obama versus Bush, they will compare how we acted in Iraq versus how we acted in Libya. Iraq is our trillion dollar, almost decade long war, in which at least 5,000 troops have committed the ultimate sacrifice. Libya was mostly a backup support while allowing the Libyans to direct their own revolution.
Special message to Republicans: you look really desperate and hateful when you are unable to praise Obama's leadership on the Libya operation. We know that you really hate the French, so such praise to them is not fooling anyone. Yes, France and Britain did a great job, it's great to have allies on board and not alienate them the way Bush did with Iraq. But let's get real here. Obama did what needed to be done. If you can't admit that he's more successful than Bush, then you can do something for yourself. Pick a competent, non-ideological, pragmatic candidate to be your nominee. In case you are so blind that you can't determine who that might be, I'll give you one hint. He's the one who skipped the debate in Las Vegas and called it an embarrassment.