Update 3: Riverbend from Baghdad considers what she calls Saddam's "lynching" -- it ain't pretty.
Update 2: Wow. Radigan has just excerpted an utterly fascinating piece by Jack Weatherford (author of the seminal Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World) that was published in the L.A. Times a couple of days ago. Keying off Saddam Hussein's last public speech in which he "denounced the invading Americans as 'the Mongols of this age,' a reference to the last time infidels had conquered his country, in 1258," Weatherford goes on to provide a detailed compare and contrast of Chingghis Khan's strategic and political genius with Bush & Co.'s monumental ineptitude. A must-read.
Update: Riverbend's back, the girl blogger from Baghdad, after a two-month hiatus. Her heartbreaking summary of Iraq's year ought to stop the keyboard warriors from dancing on Saddam's grave, but it won't.
In the wake of Saddam Hussein's execution, I offer an educational look into what passes for religious thinking in at least one prominent Christian evangelist who's set up camp in Mongolia.
Shantideva, as always, has a ready response:
"If unhappiness befalls your enemy,
Why should this be a cause for your rejoicing?
The wishes of your mind alone,
Will not in fact contrive his injury.
"And if your hostile wishes were to bring them harm,
Again, what cause of joy is that to you?
'Why, then I should be satisfied!' -- are these your thoughts?
Is anything more ruinous than that?"
The Vatican's response exhibited some sanity, but please tell me that State-sponsored murder has not become a mainstream Christian value in the United States. I'm sorry to report that Mongolia still retains the death penalty, often carried out in secret, according to this year's UN report.
It is well-known that His Holiness the Dalai Lama wept upon learning of the death of Mao Tse-Tung, the man responsible for the massacre of upward of 1,000,000 Tibetans and the wholesale destruction of much of Tibet's religious culture. Why? Because the Dalai Lama has profoundly trained in the heart of Buddhist practice, cultivating impartial compassion for all sentient beings. And he knew that through the exacting law of cause and effect, Mao would experience extraordinary suffering for countless future lifetimes as the result of his actions.
Buddhists do not consider this "justice," because we do not acknowledge the existence of absolute evil, nor an external divine judge. The Buddhist goal is the eradication of suffering for oneself and others equally. Buddhists are encouraged in this pursuit by the certainty that since suffering has an identifiable cause (desire born of ignorance), the removal of that cause will result in the cessation of suffering. Deliberately taking the life of any sentient being is a cause for future suffering, and taking a human life is especially heavy karma. To rejoice in such actions incurs a very similar karma, since its source is the same sort of ignorance.
There was also a particularly loathsome bit in the L.A. Times article (third page) on the execution:
"Hussein's execution coincided with the end of the hajj, the seasonal Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. Most Sunnis began Eid al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice, after morning prayers today; most Shiites will begin Sunday morning.
"[Defense lawyer Najib] Nuaimi said that [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri] Maliki, a Shiite, had pushed for Hussein's execution during the holiday to 'make a gift during Eid to his party.'
"Hussein 'will be the sacrificial lamb for the Shiites, and the Iranians in particular,' said Nuaimi, referring to many Muslims' practice of slaughtering lambs after pilgrimage for celebratory feasts."
Beginning with the Buddha's own teaching, the "religious" sacrifice of animals has been regarded as abhorrent, an indication that people are still locked in a barbaric state of mind. How much more so the sacrifice of a human being?