Ronald Reagan: Hero or Villain?Written by Arthur Zulu
D-e-a-t-h. The mention of that five-letter word instills fear into many. Only a few mortals could dare death like poet John Donne. When his beloved brother died, he wrote death these damning lines: Death do not be proud/ Though some have called thee mighty and dreadful/ But thou art not so/ Nor yet canst thou kill me/ and Death shall be no more/ Death thou shalt die.
The poet was audacious. However, one year after writing his poem, Death killed John Donne. So, "Pale Death, with impartial step, knocks at poor man's cottage and palaces of kings" says Horace. Because man likes deceiving himself and because man does not want to think that he ever dies, he has crafted euphemisms to describe death. Like kicking bucket. Going to great beyond. Answering call to glory.
So Ronald Reagan has joined his ancestors (to use another euphemism). And encomiums are pouring in. One of such is from George Bush: "Reagan is a hero. He brought peace to world." It is good to say kind things about dead, so that when we die, living will say good things about us too. Everyone wants to be remembered at death for his virtues, not his vices. It was for this reason that Solomon, wise man said: "A good name is better than precious ointment; and day of death than day of one's birth." Other graveside orators in some settings have however tried to strike balance. Consider Mark Antony's funeral discourse for Julius Caesar; "Friends, Romans lend me your ears. . . I have come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. . . The evil that men do lives after them. So let it be with Caesar." You may give speech any interpretation that suits you. Meanwhile, let us exit Shakespearean stage and enter real world.
I am suffering from memory lapse these days. Who started star wars program? What about telepathic guided missiles initiative? Who befriended Saddam Hussein and trained Osama bin Laden? Who tolerated Botha and Mugabe? I cannot remember exactly. All I can ell is that during Reagan's regime, it seemed that world would go up in flames next moment. Leaders of rogue states wet their undies. Ask Muammar Ghadaffi. Or is it Momar Qadaffi? Gorbachev, yes, I mean gentleman from Russia saw Roman Catholic ‘hell fire.' And freedom fighters, no, I want a better word—terrorists—yes, terrorists ran into caves.
But this compliment about Reagan bringing peace to world is what I do not understand. Is this new world order? Hear William Pfaff: "The new world order has arrived. It is well and truly new, consecrating invasion, aggression and ethnic purge as acceptable international conduct." In words of Dr. Walker Percy, we have been in "a state of suspended animation" since World War I. It is no wonder that Helmut Schmidt, former German Chancellor said, "we have never governed [the world] in total peace."
Now, threat of a nuclear ‘Armageddon' is more imminent. (The Doomsday clock is getting closer to midnight.) The once frightened ‘terrorists' are out from their hideouts and are plotting end of world. And despite two prayers for peace at Assissi Italy (never mind pope and his prayerful multitudes), twelve wars are going on around world this hour. It is for this reason that ‘The Daily Yomiuri' says that "the balance between peace and war is becoming ever more precarious."
"Fahrenheit 911" Wins Round OneWritten by Arthur Zulu
Every nation has its inventors. No; make it illustrious sons. (Because there are few illustrious daughters.) Look at this checklist: Alfred Nobel was an illustrious son. While his fellow Swedish natives were busy catching fishes in North Seas, he was engaged in harnessing destructive power of atom. The Japanese residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during Second World War know rest of story.
Italy too has her illustrious son. At a time when Catholic Church believed that earth (supposedly supported by an elephant or a giant turtle) didn't move, Galileo Galilei came with his telescope to rubbish claim. He was condemned to die as a heretic when he dared say; "Essipur muove." Translation: "the earth moves." Germany has its illustrious son. When pope was busy trying to prevent layman from reading Bible, Johannes Guttenberg came on stage and invented movable printing press, which helped in printing and distribution of holy book. Johannes, however, got away free, but not William Tyndale, Bible translator, who ended up with Bible, tied on his chest in a literal lake of fire.
Then there was Michael Faraday, illustrious son of England who vanished darkness forever from civilized climes with invention of electricity. But like many others before him, his invention killed him. They were great inventors all same—illustrious sons of great lands.
Yet, there is a not so great nation, Prussia. Ever heard of name? So that country is not eternally remembered as a center stage for Great War, enter Mr. Fahrenheit. So that you would know at what degree to heat your soup or safe time of year to row your boat across frigid waters of Arctic, he invented mercurial thermometer. Thank Heavens! We now know that at its core, sun is about 27,000,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Just in case you can't figure out what that means, try exploding 100 billion hydrogen bombs every second. Or detonate 100, 000 million megatons of TNT per second. Got point?
When Mr. Fahrenheit invented his thermometer, however, he didn't dream that someday tallest buildings in America would be engulfed in an inferno and that his innocent instrument would be on hand to measure temperature. Not actually that firemen came to burning World Trade Center on 9/11 with literal thermometers. But conflagration has spawned a movie "Fahrenheit 911" which swept 57th edition of ‘Festival de Cannes'—the world's biggest film festival—earning winner Michael Moore loudest standing ovation at Cannes in last 25 years. In his acceptance speech, movie star said among other things: ". . . many people want truth and many want to put it in closet. . . . " Well said Mr. Moore. But what is truth? That was same old question thrown to Jesus during his trial by a cynical Pontius Pilate. Pity; he didn't wait for an answer. Deduction: Truth is relative.