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Father Bill Haymaker
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Look, I know my crystal ball is no more accurate than yours. But itís becoming almost certain that a great needless tragedy is about to befall our world.

Please understand, Iím no Bible thumping, come up to the altar and repent now doomsday predictor. But I do believe I have some qualified experiential understanding of the human emotions of hurt and rage, and the reactions of people when they become so incensed by their anger that they become obsessed in seeking to avenge the wrongs that have been perpetrated against them. PhewÖlong sentence!

I have already been so deeply saddened over the events surrounding the publications of the tasteless and offensive cartoons in the Danish newspaper. The Danish are such a lovely people and I feel so deeply for them that they are now victims of a backlash because of an individualís inappropriate and hurtful actions.

Less than a week later, film is being broadcast around the world showing the British military apprehending barefoot, rock-throwing Iraqi youths and beating them repeatedly. I cannot describe my disgust and shame over these images, and my concerns for our troops who serve there, who have always considered themselves as peacekeepers and ambassadors for democracy and cultural understanding.

Despite full knowledge of the rage and hurt it caused, other publications, namely the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, chose to again reprint the offensive cartoons.

There's no good reason for any press to re-publish material proven to incite violent demonstrations and lead to endangering the lives of others, redeployment of troops and closure of embassies. It seems to me to be a wholly gratuitous exercise, not an exercise in democratic freedoms.

Now, the Iranian Embassy in Frankfurt is demanding that the German paper Der Tagesspiegel issue an apology for their denigrating and offensive depiction of the Iranian World Cup team as terrorist bombers. Of course, the German paper is refusing to apologise, invoking their rights of free press.

And here we are this morning, just days after this litany of poor taste and abuse, we now see the most repugnant, vile images from Abu Ghraib prison, showing further abuse of prisoners, including one who is clearly mentally ill. And this isnít a happenstance occurrence. The person doing the filming has had plenty of time to take multiple shots from different angles, including a broad-shot from a higher point in the prison, perhaps a second floor. This is just outrageous! I remember the filming of the beating of Rodney King in America. This filming was only made by luck. Just imagine how many other events may have occurred that were never discovered. And after the filming of British troops and the new film from Abu Ghraib, my thoughts are along similar lines: how many instances of abuse have never been captured on film?

The press is reporting that the White House is taking steps to prevent the publication of the images. Itís too late, and thereís no doubt that wherever people have been aggrieved, their rage from other events is only being compounded. And each time we see more of this, innocent people get caught up in the expressions of rage.

When people are so hurt and aggrieved, sometimes, unfortunately, even apologising isnít enough to heal. Dialogue and constructive ideas may sometimes help, but that often doesnít heal the pain. And in these instances, people who want to correct the wrongs often look to their leaders for guidance. And itís that leadership that can guide and nurture others into modelling the leaderís behaviour and persona. At least it's a start.

Sadly though, we may already have a glimpse of one leaderís understanding of the benefits of contrition or apologies, when all the public hears after that individual shoots a friend of his:


No Comment.

Almighty and merciful Father, we have erred. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done. Have mercy upon us. Lead us to build a peaceful world. Guide and protect our leaders. Help us to find ways to give our children a world that lives in peace, rather than a world that lives in division. Amen

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Last Updated 03/07/2006