The Death of Saddam: A Time to Mourn

Yuwanda Black

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I don't like to look at pictures of the noose being put around Saddam's neck.

I don't like the fact that several of our leaders (Clinton, Bush) have openly said that they want to “kill" [Saddam, Bin Laden].

I didn't like the celebratory sounds of crowds cheering the execution of Saddam.

I don't like it when newscasters refer to Saddam as a tyrant, ruthless, and/or a murderer.

I'm American. I've never met Saddam and couldn't have pointed to Iraq on a map if my life depended on it until four years ago. Now I know names, places and cultural expressions like Tikrit, Muqtada, Osama and fatwa, as if they're part of my every day vocabulary.

Saddam probably embodied all of the most vile adjectives used to describe him. So, why do I care about his death? Why do I think it is an occasion to mourn?

I mourn Saddam's death on several counts:

1. The waste of a life: I mourn for the man Saddam could have been. He was obviously a smart man. I watched his life story on Biography. He rose from relentless poverty and in-home violence to become the leader of a nation.

I wondered how different his life could have been had he made different choices - taken that intellectual talent and applied it for the good of mankind. I felt sorry that a life with so much in-built promise, that overcame so many odds, was used the way it was.

I wonder what he felt in those last moments. Was he scared, repentant, relieved? What are one's last thoughts as you walk the plank to your death?

Most religions teach that we are all here for a purpose. The unsaid part of that is “good" purpose. No one pre-supposes that our purpose is evil. Our job in the time granted us on earth is to figure out what that [good] purpose is.

Did Saddam figure his out? Did he come to any resolutions in the weeks, days and hours leading up to his final moments? I hope so.

2. A culture of violence: I have a 13-year-old nephew, and I shudder to think how these things change how he views the world. How can we honestly tell our youth that violence is not the answer, when we boldly broadcast it to the world?

My thought while viewing the video was, “How am I going to explain this to my nephew in terms that make sense?" Kids have an in-built radar for bulls**t, and I knew he was going to call me out on this one. And, what could I say?

In the Australian newspaper, The Age, journalist Christopher Bantick raises this same question in the article, “So what do we tell our children?"

He writes, “Besides the numbing awareness felt by many when Van died (a drug mule hanged in 2005 in his country), it was the arbitrary nature of how this [Saddam's death] was to occur that disturbed my son. [he asked] Who has the power to take a life. "

Who, indeed.

I was watching Anderson Cooper of CNN on 360 one night as they were waiting for the video of the hanging {I have a hard time even typing the word “hanging" as it relates to a person} to come in.

He went to great pains to explain that they would not be showing the video in detail and that they were going to review it thoroughly before broadcasting it. THEN, he said, we'll get it to you as quickly as we can - which seemed a bit of a contradiction.

Does this mean that the media is responsible for our culture of violence? Not so much; that would be too easy. But, I did wonder, what purpose was there in broadcasting the execution - even a portion of it.

3. Death as a state practice: I was watching an interview in which Bill Clinton, defending against attacks that he hadn't done enough to stop Osama, said that he had tried to have Osama killed on several occasions.

I remember being shocked. Not so much that it was true, but the fact that the words, “I tried to have him killed . . . " rolled so easily from his tongue. President Bush has voiced the same sentiments about Saddam.

I thought, “How have we evolved to the point as a civilization that it is rudimentary to say things like that;" that these types of sentiments are so easily accepted.

These are leaders of countries - calling for the death of another human (no matter how hated), as easily as mobsters put out contracts on each other!

When human beings seek to do each other harm, even in the name of justice, it somehow rankles. It is, or should be, against the very nature of mankind. How a society deals with the worst among it defines who it is, what it stands for. Do we want to stand on a platform of murder, rationalizing it in the name of justice?

All of this ran through my mind as I watched the video of the noose being put around Saddam's neck.

"Where will it all end, " was my thought as the video came to an end. Where will all the killing end?

May be reprinted with the following, in full: Yuwanda Black is the publisher of : THE business portal for and about the editorial and creative industries. First-hand freelance success stories, e-courses, job postings, resume tips, advice on the business of freelancing, and more! Launch a Profitable Freelance Writing Career in 30 Days or Less - Guaranteed! Class starts in January - log on to

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