I find that I have two very definite selves. The first one is oddly energised and fascinated by the capture and death of Muammar Gaddafi. This part of me needs, in some strange way, to watch the news videos. I find myself fascinated by the end of a man who, apparently, caused so much pain and suffering to so many people. I find myself, kind of ‘rubber necking’, like when I pass a pile-up on the motorway. Then I have a feeling of some sort of internal disgust at my need to be fascinated by it all. It is as though, through the magic window of the television, we all become voyeurs of the most shocking and depraved images, and the same is also true of the internet. Yet these images are real, they did happen and people witnessed them. Strange how the TV can turn them into something that feels more like a Hollywood movie than real life.The other part of me has a genuine feeling of sorrow for this poor man. I see the anguish, pain and terror in his eyes as he is beaten and dragged through the street, and if I am honest, my heart goes out to him and I want to save him from this terrible end. I can play the intellectual game of “well, he deserved it” or “if he had killed one my relatives, I would do the same to him”. Yet there is something terribly wrong in what I have just witnessed.
Then a man who’s daughter was killed in the Lockerbie Bombing comes on the screen and says that we should never celebrate the death of another human being and explaining that, had Gaddafi lived, he would have had to face up to himself and his actions through the court at the Hague. I think, “that is it” all that this action of revenge has done is perpetuate man’s inhumanity to man. Somewhere inside me I know that when we kill another that something happens to us inside, that we, in some way, kill or damage an essential aspect of ourself.
All the great philosophies talk about forgiveness and the positive effect that letting go of our negative past has on us. At the same time, when we hold on to hatreds and negative feelings they, in the end, make us ill and wreck our relationships and our lives.
Carl Rogers, father of person-centred ideas, suggested that we should always treat others with “unconditional positive regard”. He identified that the inner being of all people is essentially good and that they should be respected unconditionally. However, at the same time, he suggested that we do not need to put up with anyone’s negative behaviour: approve of the person and disapprove of the behaviour.
Gandhi was very clear. When it is an eye for an eye, we all end up blind. So I think that, for me, in the murder of Gaddafi, we all become just a little more blind to our own inhumanity. I would be more comfortable with him publicly facing up to all that he had done and perhaps him even seeking forgiveness.
In the end, the only thing that will save us all, even from ourselves, is love.