Saturday, December 29, 2007
Out of Goshen and into...Pakistan?
So it looked like I was in tune with the world, as if I expected the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. I mean, just the night before my blog was about fanaticism and death in India. Now I kept up with Bhutto’s comings and goings, most America I know did. Just the day before I was listening to a report on the BBC and I was concerned that one of the assassination attempts would finally be successful. Still, I was not paying attention last Thursday morning.
Cathi and I decided to have a day trip together. We had planned to go to Goshen and Elkhart. Elkhart has a wonderful mansion, the Ruthmere Mansion that we planned on visiting.
So, it was off to northern Indiana. I did not listen to the radio and I never heard the news.
We love Goshen. It is an artist colony. It has great antique shops, great resale shops and it has the Old Bag Factory. This is, well, an old bag factory that is converted into numerous shops. We stopped for lunch. Lunch was great, the company very nice. However, we never got to Elkhart. I got a headache that just would not go away.
So we went to the Mennonite shops. One of our favorite things is to spend time with fellow peace-church folks. On our way back we went past Goshen College, a nice little peace college. Then we went past Heifer Project International. Cathi first introduced me to this simple way of helping the poor in developing nations without being condescending.
Finally, when we got home that night I checked my e-mail and then I found out, Benazir Bhutto had been assassinated. I felt sick to my stomach. I have no idea why I was shocked. She had only returned to Pakistan in mid- Oct and there had already been numerous attempts on her life. One left 136 people dead and 450 injured. So why was I surprised?
I liked her. She was the first women elected to leadership in an Islamic country. She was intelligent, had style and was sensitive to woman and family issues.
I know she had been accused of corruption during her two terms as Prime Minster. I don’t know if the accusations were true or an excuse for a coup. I know she was the best hope for democracy in Pakistan and yet had herself appointed President of her political party for life. So she was a complicated person. Still, she was intelligent and fascinating to listen to. Besides, an elected official, no matter how imperfect, is better than a dictator.
She was also brave. She knew the risks of returning to her country and yet she persisted. Her father was the first elected Prime Minister of Pakistan. He was overthrown in a coup and two years later hanged. Her two brothers were murdered. She knew the risk and is a martyr for democracy.
I feel bad for the people of Pakistan. It is so easy to see their grief on the news. I worry about what will happen to Pakistan. The second largest Islamic nation can not afford to dissolve into chaos. A nation with 60 to 100 nuclear weapons with sophisticated delivery systems cannot afford to dissolve into chaos. This is a scary world.
And so the world has lost a moderate leader, a force for democracy, a Harvard graduate, a voice for Islamic women and a voice for the Pakistani poor.
I am glad Cathi and I had our fun day away from a world gone mad. I am happy the world benefited from the dedication and leadership of Benazir Bhutto. And I am very sad at the loss of such a leader.