On August 20th, the Scottish government decided to release Libyan intelligence agent Abdelbaset Al Megrahi from prison on compassionate grounds due to terminal prostate cancer. The release of Al Megrahi, charged with the greatest mass murder in British history, has ignited a firestorm of debate on both sides of the Atlantic regarding his role in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103. The fact that Al Megrahi was given a hero's welcome on return to Libya has further enraged the families of the 270 victims.
While driving home yesterday, I was listening to a local religious channel. Although I don't always agree with the tenets of the born again movement, the station usually has interesting phone in debates regarding religious issues. Yesterday, the debate was framed around how the release of Al Megrahi either reinforced, or was opposed to, the Christian concepts of forgiveness and compassion. More specifically, when we follow a religion that constantly speaks of these actions, how prepared are we to actually put them into action when faced with barbaric acts such as this ?
The callers were heavily slanted towards the Old Testament concepts of retribution and revenge and easily outnumbered the compassionate ones that argued that all men and women are deserving of compassion and the opportunity for salvation. There was some polite finger pointing from the compassionate camp which basically argued that if you call yourself a Christian, you need to express compassion regardless of the actions of the sinner for divine judgment was not the role of call in show participants. Although the arguments on both sides were interesting, I needed to remind myself that this wasn't some college dorm room bull session- at the root of the argument were 270 dead men, women and children who were obliterated by a deliberate, calculated and well planned murder. Turning the tables slightly, how do I view this as a Buddhist ?
I try to meditate on a daily basis. Before I meditate I try to think of a subject for that session of meditation and then focus on it as I begin. Today, I will meditate and send loving kindness and compassion to Mr. Al Megrahi in hopes that he will see the error in his ways and attempt to turn his heart from one of hate and death to one of compassion and love for his victims and their families. I honestly feel sorry for Mr. Al Megrahi because I believe the negative karma created by this crime will banish him to countless reincarnations on this planet in the lowest orders of existence. By extinguishing 270 humans, the highest goal for reincarnation, he has sentenced himself to countless lives of suffering and pain.
To the families of the victims I will send loving kindness and compassion in hope that they are gradually freed from the pain of their loss and consoled by the fact that their loved ones were reborn and now walk this earth once again. To the world I will send loving kindness and compassion that our stupid tribal conflicts will no longer escalate into the mass murder of others.
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