WHEN A STRONGMAN FALLS


After ruling for more than four decades with an iron fist, Gadhafi finally succumbed to the same people his fist pounded upon. Now it was his time to know the joys and pains of every revolution, of the revelry of the victors and the agony of the fallen.

The sight of Gadhafi being dragged on the street, drenched in blood an in an apparent helplessness of the situation was something unimaginable say ten or twenty years ago when he was at the peak of his rule. He was Libya’s strongman whose will means the will of the majority though the latter might not really will it. He had Libya’s future in his hand; at least that was so years ago. But the voice of the people – if not the voice of God – was the voice that prevailed and no matter how the strongman appears to be strong the collective will proved stronger than anything else. This again will point to a more general reflection of humanity that power may put someone to the pedestal or it can drag someone to hell; Gadhafi experienced both. So here we get the impression that those we consider formidable are not formidable after all; our very own Marcos’ at least showed an example that other dictators should have taken time to look upon – that you cannot maintain power forever. Why? Because you don’t have the capacity to live forever. If not health  taking its toll on you, the people may eventually take their tolls on you. It’s the constant fears of any dictatorship and no wonder why they readily resort to crashing down even the smallest hint of subversion ‘coz they know what the people can do.

If Marcos’ example was not enough, at least he should have sought lesson from the example of Saddam Hussein, his Arab kin. Dragged by the mob, brought into court, faced trial was eventually executed as was expected all along.  The videos showing their capture even had a gruesome resemblance which I admit could sometimes lead to pity. Gadhafi should have learned how to let go when time tells him it’s over. But again, letting go is something which dictators do not have in their vocabulary. As they say, it’s something the powerless are so fond of saying when they don’t have something to let go in the first place. It takes another bravery to think of it and another stupidity to do it when right there in your hand you have it.

Or Gadhafi should have followed the example of Mubarak, who upon learning that it’s impossible to continue holding on to power, he finally stepped down despite a very fierce tone of resistance at first to any calls of resignation. But after the demonstrations took more than a month and with the international community constantly monitoring the situation, he finally realized it’s over. It’s impossible to continue holding on when power is gradually slipping from your hand. But here again, the fiercest of dictators would not even entertain the idea of impossibility. Napoleon Bonaparte once said,“Impossible is a word that can only be found in the dictionary of fools.” And with that wisdom guiding Napoleon, he relentlessly pushed for more territory until he met his Waterloo. There he realized that some things are impossible to attain. Imagined might is different from actual might. Gadhafi could have thought the same, he imagined the might of his army as far stronger and far equipped than the opposition and so considered it impossible to be beaten in an actual battle. With that assessment, he maintained his resistance. Subsequent defections from the army coupled with NATO airstrikes have otherwise ruined his imagined might. And after the ensuing gunfights it was him who’s running for his life.  It was a farfetched scenario for someone styled as the Brother Leader and  the King of Kings of Africa.

After Gadhafi, Libyans can now start to breathe change again. They can now start rebuilding their country, their infrastructures and most importantly their lives. But the Arab Spring is not over yet with Gadhafi’s demise; Syrians are still agitating for freedom and calling for the resignation of President Basher Assad. As to when and how it will end, we’re not sure at the moment. But the more important question that still lies ahead especially for those countries who have successfully thrown out their dictators is will they be successful in their transition to democracy?  At least Tunisia has had a successful election but what about Egypt and recently Libya? What worries the West now is the prospect of Islamic fundamentalists getting into power with the Muslim Brotherhood gaining popularity in Egypt and the same trend gaining foothold in the Libyan populace. Actually, what the future holds we do not know. My constant prayer is for the Arab people to finally gain a stronger ground in the country where from the beginning they had the right to own and to cultivate with freedom and with dignity.

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