Liberty is being free from the things we don't like in order to be slaves of the things we do like.--Ernest Benn

Monday, October 31, 2011

Me & Mo Gadhafi

I've always thought of Halloween as the lowest point in the year for me. Maybe it's this sentiment that got me to thinking about Momar Gadhafi.

I will disclose that, in the closet, I am a tyrannicidal maniac. That's one way of saying that my fantasy self holds (back) urges to assassinate tyrants. Certain people, IMO, urgently need killing. At the top of the list are few of those -- usually men -- whose continued lives have a devastatingly deleterious impact on the lives of millions. Obvious examples are "President" Bashar al-Assad of Syria and "President" Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. These two scumbags have arrogant self images of themselves; objectively speaking they are corks who keep the lives and welfare of millions in the bottle of violence and squalor.

But now we come to the slaughter of Moammar Gadhafi. He was killed a few days ago, minutes after he was captured by disorganized revolutionary forces in Libya. My first reaction, was WTF? Why bother? My imagineary closet self would have happily killed him back in the spring when his removal from this side of the grass would have saved thousands of lives not to mention Libya's infrastructure. What's the point now? Of course, in these revolutionary circumstances of insurrection, logic is quite beyond the point. So, it's not for me to judge Mo's killers.

But, more to the point, is Mo Gadhafi's POV. Here was an archetype of a man who won't let go.

He spent his final weeks shuttling from hideout to hideout in his hometown of Sirte, alternating between rage and despair as his regime crumbled around him. He was cut off from the world while on the run, living in abandoned homes without TV, phones or electricity, using candles for light. According to sources,

Mo would spend all his time reading, jotting down nonsensical notes and brewing tea on a coal stove. He was not leading the battle. His sons did that. He did not plan anything or think about any plan .... I feel sorry for him because he underestimated the situation .... He could have left and gotten out of the country and lived a happy life .... He was stressed, he was really angry, he was mad sometimes. Mostly, he was just sad and angry.
Gadhafi's aides repeatedly urged him to step aside and leave the country, but he refused, saying he wanted to die in the land of his ancestors.

How can Mo's example be instructive for ancient men of the sea? When does it become time to stay ashore? Tillerman instructs,

Cheat the nursing home. Die on your LASER!
I've known a couple of sailors who expired during races. One went overboard and was recovered by his son. I'm not convinced that it is Corinthian to put crew at risk, especially in marginal conditions.

Myself? In my bones I feel I still have a lot of nautical miles ahead of me. But the time will come when I should trade in my 38' Laser for the original 13' 10" size. Then I can aspire to becoming a sailor forever. In the waters of my ancestors.


  1. I never saw where that one was going!

  2. For one day out of the year, some people think they can get away with anything. And some bloggers think they can write anything....

  3. "He was cut off from the world while on the run, living in abandoned homes without TV, phones or electricity, using candles for light." Not to worry. His friends were DVRing re-runs of Jersey Shore for him for when he was ultimately restored to power. Scumbag.

  4. I'm reading Kim Somebody who's writing her ethical will and says,

    It's amazing to get older. Not necessarily fun, but amazing. Each age has its gifts and limitations and I hope every young, middle-aged and older person ... gets the right kind of support to go for the gusto in the age-appropriate tasks .... your energy changes appropriately in each age. There's a lot more of it when you're younger, but it gets more sophisticated and interesting when you're older if you use it for the right things. I say this because I've had a hard time letting go of the past, generally. Today, I'd tell anyone, don't lose a minute of your time by trying to hold on to something whose time is over.

  5. I have reclaimed untold minutes, having given up on Halloween many decades ago.

  6. Tony la Russa retired from the St. Louis Cardinals this week, demonstrating the the art of leaving when you’re on top: hard it is for most leaders to step out when they’re on top, making their exit when the spotlight is bathing them in its warmest glow .... let’s be honest here, it’s easiest to negotiate the next blockbuster employment contract with a huge salary bump when you’ve just achieved the greatest feat in your game ..... Such success also makes it easy for leaders to forget the harder parts of their job. When you’ve just won the World Series, or reported a great quarter, or are doing well in the polls, it can be easy to forget the error-filled games, the economic havoc of the year before, or the party infighting that makes the job so frustrating. “I can do this a few more years,” such leaders think, blinded by the rosiness of the moment.

    .... Most of all, we’re all human, and once we taste the sweetness of success, we want to have it again. In the cushy afterglow of achievement, the idea of giving it all up for the unknowns of retirement feels empty and foreign. The temptation of reaching that goal again—be it a championship win, a record quarter or another election—is all too strong.

    Some leaders, like La Russa, are smart enough to resist that tug. In other cases....

    Maybe more organizations need to have such a tradition in place. If more created term limits or retirement ages, they might prevent leaders from being tempted to stay on past their prime, suffering from overconfidence, or racking up outsized pay packages that balloon after a big win. After all, even the strongest leaders can be weak when it comes to ending it all. By setting the finish line for them, we might save them from themselves.