As I was reminiscing about an appropriate message for my friends at the beginning of the New Year 2008, the news reached me about the assassination of opposition leader and former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
The tragic news shocked and saddened me immediately for several reasons.
First, it reminded me instantly about the fragility of the world we live in. In many ways it seems that the world of today is not much different from the one of the Middle Ages. The hearts and minds of the people today have not become less fanatical, barbarian and dark than in those days. In fact religious superstition, ideological fanaticism and sinister political agendas, any of which or all could have been behind the murder, have already taken away the innocence of the 21st century.
Second, the words of Paul of the New Testament, that "whoever wants to live a godly life will be persecuted" have come to life again in the tragic death of Benazir Bhutto. Just like Mahatma Gandhi, John and Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and many other leaders of courage, she too paid with her life for her undivided pursuit of the values she believed in. I believe, despite all her imperfections, that she was a godly person who had the good of Pakistan on her heart.
Third, I can still vividly remember, at the National Prayer Breakfast 2007 in Washington DC, many of us having the honor of listening to her reading the Gospel account summarizing the Greatest Commandment. While she was reading the inspired lines about loving God and our neighbors she came across as a person who deeply revered and honored Jesus. Knowing that Benazir Bhutto was a Muslim lady, her reverence for Jesus left a strong and lasting impression on me.
The world has definitely lost another great leader. Tragically those who do it do not seem to care much about such qualities.
Now, at the time when millions of flowery season’s greetings are roaming across the world, the brutal murder of Benazir Bhutto reminds me of a sobering reality: that at the end of the year 2007 this world is still a messy place, hijacked by the wicked powers in heavenly and earthly realms, which calls for tireless prayer and action on the part of the people who know a loving God and are committed to love their neighbors, whoever and wherever they are.
Let me share with you some of the questions that, at this moment, are not letting me slumber, sink into apathy or become overwhelmed with the amount of evil around me:
What is it that I can do to make my community, country and the world a
better and safer place?
How can I stand for social justice and righteousness more decisively and deliberately in the year 2008?
How to help make the pursuit of forgiveness, reconciliation and social repentance a priority on the governments’ agendas in 2008? What stand should I take against all forms of terrorism and abuse of personal or group freedoms, wherever they are coming from and whatever their agendas?
Where and how can I find like-minded friends so that together we could make these causes grow stronger and more impacting?
And, in the face of wickedness such as the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, how can we together work towards the fulfillment of Paul’s charge: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21.)
Wishing you a reflective, engaging, proactive and blessed New Year.
Tihomir Kukolja directs the Renewing Our Minds Initiative at the Life Center International, Fuzine, Croatia.