Sunday, June 27, 2010

Living by the sword

WHAT’S the cost of obsession?

To find and kill Osama bin Laden, Gary Brooks Faulkner pawned all his construction equipment and put a lot of wear and tear on his kidneys.

In the news, the American recently returned to his Colorado home after he was detained and then released by the Pakistani government.

According to The New York Times/International Herald Tribune, he was roaming in the “lawless tribal areas near the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan” in a “suspicious manner,” said Pakistani officials.

Faulkner was caught with a dagger, a pistol with 40 rounds, a sword, a book full of “Christian verses and teachings,” a “small quantity” of hashish, and night-vision goggles.

For his efforts, Faulkner has been called a variety of names by the media and Netizens. “Rocky Mountain Rambo,” wrote the NY Daily in its lead. “Go get em Gary!!!!!,” commented a reader named Kissarmy to the online article.

Would Faulkner have been greeted with confetti rather than jeers if he had succeeded? “Hero” and “patriot” mingle freely with “screw loose” and “Hollywood delusions” in the blogosphere.

Faulkner is an unlikely Osama hunter. The former convict is a construction worker who saved his earnings and eventually sold his tools to finance several trips to Pakistan. He is in his 50s and just started dialysis to treat his kidneys. His family says he never served in the military or underwent special training.

On his sixth trip in about seven years when he was arrested, Faulkner was checking out caves in the border district of Chitral, which is “widely rumored to hide Mr. bin Laden,” according to the NYT/IHT.

He does not speak any tribal language but wore a robe and grew his hair long. On a Daily News article, side-by-side photos of Faulkner and bin Laden show the two men sporting gray beards. Reports say that the two also share kidney ailments.

What drove the man to attempt what untold millions of dollars and a global anti-terrorism network have failed to carry out since 9/11?

His family members say that Faulkner was “increasingly frustrated” that his government was “distracted” by other domestic and international concerns and “forgot” the “main issue”.

“The reason is because a man ordered a hit on our country so we went to war,” commented a sister of Faulkner.

Getting back, settling the score, fixing someone’s wagon, wreaking vengeance.
There are many English idioms for exacting revenge; nearly all of these are in common use.

It is not only language that betrays us. Popular culture, particularly the news media, document how our alter ego breaks out of the gloss of education and civilization to run amok.

In human terms, justice—catching and punishing the wrongdoer—is interchangeable with avenging the wronged.

Peace can only be bought if we steel ourselves to wield the sword.

“"Draw me not without reason, sheath me not without honor" is an old Spanish saying about swords, quoted by a group that calls itself the Internet Sword Collectors Association.

What is the fine point of this?

Before I digress, let me answer first this online poll: “Do you think Gary Faulkner should keep hunting Osama Bin Laden?”

I check “yes” if I think “the U.S. military and CIA aren’t making progress so let him have another shot.”

It’s “no” if I think “(Faulkner) is a fool who could end up getting Americans killed with his vigilante tactics.”

The man who told reporters, “We can’t let people like this scare us… we’re going to take care of business,” had a nap after he arrived home.

( 09173226131)

* First published in Sun.Star Cebu’s June 27, 2010 issue of “Matamata”

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