Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Famous Last Words

This story from HiPakistan illustrates the Jekyll and Hyde character of Saudi Arabia:

Riyadh: BBC correspondent Frank Gardner lay in a coma on Monday after extremists riddled him with bullets and killed the accompanying freelance Irish cameraman, Simon Cumbers, as they were filming in a slum area here. Mr Gardner, BBC's security correspondent and an Al Qaeda expert, was left for dead by the fleeing attackers, local newspapers said. But he survived and pleaded for his life, shouting to bystanders to help a fellow Muslim, a police officer told AFP.

"I'm a Muslim, help me, I'm a Muslim, help me," the father of two daughters cried in Arabic, the officer said. Mr Gardner, fluent in Arabic, was carrying a small copy of the Quran, a device used by Western reporters to try to reassure extremists. The BBC team were accompanied by a "minder" and a driver from the Saudi information ministry who escaped unhurt, a police officer said. Both men were now under investigation, the officer added.

It may illustrate something else to those who still believe that "progressive" thought or tolerance will prevail in the face of murder, but it will not be what you think. This poem was written by Judyth Hill in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attack.

Wage peace with your breath.
Breathe in firemen and rubble,
breathe out whole buildings
and flocks of blackbirds.
Breathe in terrorists and breathe out sleeping children
and freshly mown fields.
Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.
Breathe in the fallen
and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.
Wage peace with your listening:
hearing sirens, pray loud.
Remember your tools:
flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.
Make soup.
Learn to knit and make a hat.
Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,
imagine grief as the outbreath of beauty
or the gesture of fish.
Swim for the other side.
Wage peace.
Never has the world seemed so fresh and precious.
Have a cup of tea and rejoice.
Act as if armistice has already arrived.
Don't wait another minute.