441 – Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

“Where’s the door?”, I hear you asking. “Sorry”, I say, “you can’t see it yet”. When you ascend to heaven, it’s only at the very end that you get to the door. Today Benazir Bhutto was laid to her grave and this is the Song of the Day as it must be. I am sorry, I have no other image, this one and your fantasy must do.

I have never met Mrs Bhutto, I know that many things have been brought up against her, and still: she was a light in the dark, an incarnation of hope for a nation that is torn like hardly any other, and now she is dead, and at the same time nothing else counts any more. Whatever the past was, this is a woman who knew exactly about the danger she was in, a woman who braved the armies of madness … and fell. A woman who will be remembered, a woman who will be sung about. May her soul rest in peace, may her spirit be with this country, may her death have not been in vain.

And may the 20 who went with her neither be forgotten, as well as the 140 that went before. Let Democracy live, even when her proponents must die.

The Song of the Day is Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door“, and on such a day nothing but the pathos of the original will do.

6 thoughts on “441 – Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”

  1. Mrs. Bhuto was brave, if like the rest of us, she feared death. I have a suspicion that fear was to her, underdeveloped. Or she was foolhardy. If the latter then everything she presented is suspect since it would, of necessity be coming from someone who was less than connected to reality.

    I’m guessing that her obsessions over came her natural instinct to cringe in the face of fanaticism. In fact, Mrs. Bhuto must have been as insensitive to the finality of death as the suicide fanatic who killed her.

    Such a degree of disconnect with the death-terror which constrain the rest of us demands some serious thought from people who think about such things. I’d like to know what overwhelms that primal fear to the degree that these two people in this case met in a way that most of the rest of us could have predicted.

    In the great nurture/nature struggle we’re told that it is nurture which wins out – we’re told that so we will believe in the supremacy of free will, and our own role in determining our destiny. And yet we have two people here, Mrs. Bhuto and her assassin, each who appear to have a natural ability to resist the promise of certain death.. or if not to resist it… to ignore it. Is that a genetic thing? Are they “less terrified” than the rest of us (I find it difficult to say “Braver” since that word implies a moral judgement)? Or has nurturing numbed their instinctive fear of dying?

    If there are people with dysfunctional self-preservation instincts… then there is no hope of ever ending this sort of violent acceleration of passion. But if the muffling of terror comes from culture, then it is time to become judgmental with respect to cultures. And to either contain, constrain, or annihilate those which numb the natural warnings.

    But that means the annihilators must become what they are motivated to annihilate.

    Which presents us with perhaps the most challenging conundrum of all, eh?

  2. I find myself agreeing with much of what Ted said. Benazir Bhutto may have been brave, but she was also foolish. Foolish because she apparently listened to and agreed with the U.S. position (through Sec. of State Rice) that she could safely return to Pakistan and help restore democracy. That was – and remains – utter nonsense. I would very much like to know what the Bush administration promised her and how they intended to protect her. The whole ugly affair makes no sense to me on the surface. But then little of the foreign policy practiced by my government over the last 7 years does.

    On a more philosophical note, I will never understand how any person can justify sacrificing their own existence for some nebulous ideology. Regardless of your religious beliefs, death is, physically at least, extremely “final”. Your day in the sun is over.

    Perhaps Mrs. Bhutto is a martyr. I don’t know. But as Ted said, the outcome of this adventure was predictable. If she was as politically astute as some claim, then she died – for what?

  3. Paul, what a pleasure to see you here!

    So what now? Martyr or fool? Underdeveloped fear, overdeveloped greed for power, loss of reality or too much trust in the US government?

    We can’t tell, but whatever the matter, the question remains, what can someone do, who wants to work towards democracy in an environment that’s not democratic at all? Accept that it won’t work and do nothing? Accept that democracy is something for those who have it? That seems a tad thin to me.

    I don’t know if democracy was the ideal of Mrs Bhutto, but lacking better knowledge, I am willing to assume it. And if so, I guess there is hardly anything one can do but risk one’s life. Democracy is nothing that simply springs to existence. It must be fought for and, once you have it, looked after.

    I am afraid that we already have seen the summit of democratic freedom. There may be many good reasons why someone can’t embrace the democratic left, but even if so, I think it is a deadly sin to accept the erosion of constitutional rights that is currently on the agenda of our ruling classes. Maybe we are not so far from a situation, where acting on behalf of democracy will be dangerous again, even in our beloved and still so peaceful western world. And then the problems of a Mrs Bhutto may be our problems again, probably sooner than we think.


  4. @Ted: I guess most of the 20th century’s problems came from the fact that people “became judgmental with respect to cultures”.

    And, regarding your conundrum, it is not a conundrum at all, it is a self-contradiction, and that simply means that anihilation is not even theoretically a solution, completely apart from the fact that history can’t provide us with evidence that this would work at all. C’mon, how much money has been pumped into Iraq to make it a safe and civilized member of the international community??

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