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Entry 43: Bengazi Revisited and a Land of Confusion

May 13, 2013

It’s been a little over 8 months since the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Bengazi, Libya that claimed the life of U.S. Diplomat, Chris Stevens, and 3 others.  We’ve learned since that fateful day in September of last year that this was a coordinated, premeditated effort by a group of heavily armed, well trained militia personnel with knowledge of the architecture and layout of the embassy, rather than a spontaneous uprising from protesters reacting to a video about the prophet Mohammed.

What a difference hindsight makes.

My previous post had been a reaction to the initial reports from September of 2012, where it was thought persons had stormed the embassy and killed in the name of their God, Allah, and his supposed offense to the release of a video that depicted their prophet in a less than respectful way.

I’d brought up the question of whether it was harmful to believe in God in general, and Allah in particular.

Despite the more recent information we have about this attack on the embassy, I think the question, and its answer or answers are still relavent.  But really, at the end of the day, so to speak, like most questions, the answer is nearly always a big ‘It depends’.

A person who chooses to believe in a said god or gods can do great good or great harm on a daily basis for reasons possibly completely unrelated to that same person’s belief in said god or gods.

The flip side of that is equally true…a person who does not believe in anything dealing with the supernatural can do great good or great harm on a daily basis irrespective of that disbelief.

While the question of harm by believing in a god or gods is relavent, I must concede that it’s actually less interesting than trying to get at the motivations for violence on our planet, and trying to address those motivations with real counter motivations to not do violence.

There’s a song by the group Genesis that I really like.

I hadn’t listened to this song in probably 20 years until a few months ago.  I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed one day, and noticed a post by a friend who’d commented that the politicians engaged in the ‘fiscal cliff’ discussions in Congress in December of 2012 reminded her of the puppets used in the 1986 music video ‘Land Of Confusion”.

I immediately was transported back inside my head to my sophomore year in high school where I’d heard the song for the first time, and watched the video on Friday Night Videos on NBC late night (anybody remember that show?)

I liked both the music and the lyrics.

I was 15 years old at the time, and not really ‘up to speed’, so to speak, on the political realities that were being mocked in the song’s video; realities of what it takes for a human being to commit to fight in a war for his or her country.  From 15 years old to the ripe old age of 42 where I sit now, those realities are now very apparent to me having lived between those ‘bookends’ of the former and latter ages.

One lyric in particular stands out….

“I won’t be coming home tonight, my generation will put it right”.

I can only think about what has happened in the Middle East and Africa over the past 2-3 years with Tunisia starting the so called ‘Arab Spring’ and wonder how much courage it takes for people to rise up and possibly utter these same words from the song to their loved ones.

How hard that must be.

The song continues to haunt…

 ‘I must’ve dreamed a thousand dreams…
Been haunted by a million screams…
I can hear the marching feet…
They’re moving into the street…
Now did you read the news today…
They say the  danger’s gone away…
But I can see the fire’s still alight…
Burning into the  night.
Too many men…
Too many people…
Making too many problems…
And  not much love to go ’round.
Can’t you see This is a land of confusion.
This is the world we live in…
And these are the hands we’re given…
Use  them and let’s start trying…
To make it a place worth living in.’
I grew up in the Cold War/Nuclear Annihilation threat era of the 1980’s.  ‘War Games’ and ‘Red Dawn’ were movies that got viewed and reviewed in the theatres, wound and rewound on the VCR (anybody know what those were?!  extra points for ‘BetaMax’), many times.  The Land of Confusion for me was my land of the United States, and the land of the U.S.S.R or Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the two ‘superpowers’ at the time.
Looking at the lyrics now though, I realize that this land of confusion can be any land on our planet from the beginning of time until the end.
What I also realize, and this is probably the scariest realization of all, is that it’s ultimately up to ME to make sure that I use the hands I’ve been given to make the land a place worth living in.
The song continues to speak to me…
‘Superman where are you now…
Everything’s gone wrong somehow
The men of  steel, men of power Are losing control by the hour.
I look at these three lines and they look back at me with a cold hard stare to say that that whole ‘you’re the next generation to lead the world’ kind of talk isn’t just filler from your 7th & 8th grade social studies teachers, no, it’s seriously the REAL DEAL.  Whether you like it or not, whether you are prepared or not, whether you believe it or not, we all eventually have to take responsibility for our time on this planet, and we all have to take a stance, pick a side, and make our voices heard.  Silence is just as loud a voice as a scream when it comes to this topic.
I spent my 20’s and 30’s thinking that there was alot of time on the planet to enjoy this life.  Eventually all things would start to smooth out and get easier.  I now understand just how wrong that viewpoint was and is, and just how much time I’ve wasted in this life not doing the things that I should have been doing to make this world a better place.  I’ve woken up.
The song really hits home for me as it goes into its last legs so to speak..
‘This is the  time…
This is the place…
So we look for the future…
But there’s not much love to go round…
Tell me why, this is a land of confusion.’
I think about those people who take to the streets in protest of their government knowing that they may be subjugated to unspeakable violence.  The belief that their path is a right one somehow trumps their fear.  How much courage does that take for one human being to muster?!  It must be unmeasurably high!
Regardless of where you stand in terms of your belief in a god or gods, there comes a point where most of us realize that our time on this planet is extremely limited and we’re forced to live with that knowledge, yet still manage to not get too worked up over the fact that our time is so limited.  Much easier to not have the knowledge and proceed into your daily routines thinking that you have unlimited amounts of time.  I wish sometimes to go back to that state of mind.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my 42 years here on the planet.  There are so many things I wish I could redo, people I wish I could not have hurt, relationships I wish I hadn’t let go and let die.  Living with that knowledge that you hurt people along your path in this life is I think one of the most difficult things we as humans have to learn how to deal with and manage.  It’s much easier said than done.  I struggle daily with it.
The song ends with a plea…
‘Stand up and let’s start showing just where our lives are going to.’
Amen, Genesis…and as a part of that ‘showing’, I want to make sure I don’t run out of that love you speak of that seems to be in short supply ‘to go round’.
Love is still our best resource, and best bet for healing all of what ails us, and our entire planet.
Thanks for stopping by.
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