A window of opportunity



On May 1st 2011 two significant, but seemingly unrelated, events occurred; the beatification of John Paul II and the assassination of Osama bin Laden.

While I do not attribute the second to the intercession of the first, I do believe there is a connection, divine or otherwise. We blessed a holy man of virtue, courage and selflessness who worked tirelessly to bring peace to this world and we killed a brutal man who spawned hatred, murder and terrorism. Where is the connection?

Have we asked ourselves why either of these men lived the life they did? Pope John Paul II lived his Christian faith doing all in his power to proclaim the love of Christ, to bring peace to the world, to defend human dignity and to decry the amassing of obscene wealth. Osama bin Laden used his wealth and Islamic faith to win the loyalty of a population long the victims of poverty, oppression and fear and used that loyalty and fear to unleash terror and death on the more privileged Western World and his own people.

Before we break into the Munchkins dance of The Wicked Witch is Dead, maybe we need to look at the role the imbalance between the haves and the have-nots, and the difference in moral life styles has played in these conflicts. If the Western World was not more privileged and morally liberated, and the Mid-Eastern world was not so suppressed, dominated and religiously conservative, would an Osama bin Laden have gained any support or following?

Rather than attempting to rid the world of these evil leaders, is it not time to rid the world of the evil, which allows these leaders to attain power? Can one third of the world population continue to consume two thirds of the worlds’ goods and possess three quarters of the worlds’ wealth? (If my statistics are wrong, I apologize, but you get the point.)

Perhaps the events of May 1st can serve as the catalyst to finally listen to the messages of love thy neighbor, and do unto others, that are the cornerstones of a civilized society and culture regardless of any religious affiliation or lack thereof. We can no longer look at the impoverished and suppressed countries of this world and simply throw a few dollars from our surplus to some humanitarian agencies and feel we have done our part. Unless we, as a society of developed nations, are willing to delve into our resources to raise the standard of living of all nations and peoples, including many of our own, history will continue to repeat itself.

Money alone is not enough. We must offer education, employment opportunities and self-help assistance, and we must look at ourselves the way much of the world looks at us. What are we exporting as our moral values and standards by our music, our films, our media, our Stars and the ostentatious life-styles we purport to emulate? Is the total lack of moral standards and the level of violence we condone as entertainment the yardstick by which we want the rest of the world to judge us? Is the freedom we so treasure and value license to do, and act, and live by no ethical or moral code but that of our own making?

The Pope of Peace, John Paul II, has been blessed. The despot, Osama bin Laden, has been killed. A window of opportunity has been opened and the door to a better world has been set ajar - may we seize the moment, put our money where our mouth is, and resolutely work toward a future of life, liberty and justice truly for ALL.

Lorraine O’Connors

Harmony, RI