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."