Rejoicing and crying - From Bin Laden to Marrakesh

We’ve been told that Bin Laden is dead... He has met his end one week ago.

Hitler is dead... ever since 1945. (He died on the very day we were officially told Bin Laden was dead.) Mere coincidence.

My niece wrote a very thoughtful post upon learning Bin Laden’s fate. She said (among other things): «I just feel that dancing on anyone's grave, so to speak, is disrespectful, no matter how horrible they were in this life.» She was talking about the jubilant crowds in the United States.

I agree with her from the deepest place in my heart. More strongly even... ever since I heard about the heinous attack on the Portland, Maine (USA) mosque today.

Evil never dies. Some of its disciples will eventually die. But evil is a creeping beast.

Have you heard about the Hydra (the Lernaean Hydra)? It is a very scary Greek myth.

The Hydra was a serpent-like water monster with many heads. If cut, they would grow back instantly. One of them was immortal. The Hydra’s breath was poisonous and deadly.

Heracles (Hercules in Rome) fought against the Hydra to destroy her.

After a long battle and with the help of his brother, he managed to annihilate the beast.

Not quite true though because once in while (and quite often) it still raises its ugly heads.

They have new names but they still belong to the (Lernaean) Hydra with its poisonous breath: anti-Semitism, racism, hatred, bigotry, fundamentalism. The list is endless.

Terrorism is Hydra of course. Bin Laden and al-Qa'ida were one of its heads.

Maybe America should not rejoice so openly about his death even though Mark Twain as quoted by my niece, said very rightly: "I have never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure."

«Rejoicing»? Is it right to rejoice? Didn’t we feel overly happy when we learnt Hitler was dead? (We, meaning whoever was still alive at the time.)

But what happened after Hitler was dead? New «Hitlers». (This name could be a trademark.) Everywhere, ever since 1945, some small, some real’ big like Bin Laden.

Now Bin Laden has been dead for over a week, seems like.

Why don’t we keep cool instead of rejoicing madly because the good team has finally won one battle over the evil team?

Why? Because Hydra is raising its ugly head again.

By the way, tonight I am not the Storyteller. I feel more like the Pythia of ancient lore. Alas, alas, alas. I am not drunk on vapors but I feel hurt and lost.

Let’s cry, people. Let’s cry over Marrakesh.


A few days ago, people died there. People were maimed there. Moroccans and tourists alike. Muslims and Christians and whatever.

Why? Because «al-Qa’ida Organization in the Islamic Maghreb» decided to start a new axis of terror from Morocco, hitting one of the most beautiful and friendly city there.

I love Marrakesh.

I spent one week in Marrakesh, several years ago when my life seemed to take a very wrong turn. Another one.

We had been told that I was bound to become blind, due to a very uncommon genetic disease. (Some specialists were talking about a mere couple of months.)

Not good for a photographer.

I needed to get a grip on myself not to panic. I needed to go away to a strange place. I needed to fill my head and ears and mind with something else than sights and images - I needed new scents, new noises... a place where I could learn to see without my eyes.

Someone suggested Marrakesh. Popeye and I, we flew to Marrakesh.


This is where Popeye discovered that he was Jewish and Arab.

This is also the place where we discovered and loved a completely new way of life. The Oriental way of life.

We were lucky enough to live in a riad which belonged to a friend’s friend, right in the Medina (the medina quarter - the historic center).

We had been provided with a tour guide and interpreter. I had asked to go into the medina as much as possible, where people lived. Real people, I mean. Not tourists.

And off we went. We made sure we were abiding by the dress code - (long and modest dresses for me). No shorts nor undershirts for Popeye, the way most tourists like to dress when it’s terribly hot outside and they are in a foreign country.

We loved the medina. We loved the people we met. Everybody was friendly and helpful. We did bond with Marrakesh.

I managed to take pictures which boosted my will to fight. 

Of course, we went to Djema el Fna and to the Café Argana to drink a mint tea, the only time we felt like being touristy.

The same Café Argana that was destroyed by a bomb on Friday.

3.000 people did not die in Marrakesh. But the people there were killed by the same Hydra which rose again from its nauseous quagmire.

(I did not become blind... only partially and I still take pictures... with my left eye.
None of my new work will be as precious to my heart than the pictures I took in Marrakesh.)

I feel too old and hopeless to really believe that our world will be a better world because Heracles destroyed one of Hydra’s heads.

Please, please, prove me wrong.

*Good Luck, and Good Night*


Bruce said...

I agree with what you have said. I just posted on Nancy's facebook page that we should not rejoice about Bin Laden's death and a few other things that bothered me at the time about what people are doing about it. I said that we should just lay him to rest, let his family mourn and do nothing else but get ready for the next head to arise. I am relieved that we do not have to pay for his jail time and the fact there would have always been a chance of escape or his follower's doing things to try to get him out. I am glad that no one else has to suffer by his hand, but the head who replaces him could be worse.

Myrna said...

Barbara Kingsolver wrote an essay on this topic soon after the 911 attack. The part I keep thinking about is this: Something new is upon us, and yet nothing is ever new. Two thousand years ago, the Greeks understood this enemy. It inhabited their imagination in a favorite tale of heroic adversity, the story of Jason and the Argonauts, where it took the shape of a particular dragon. When this creature was slain and its corpse fell to the soil, each of its teeth germinated and instantly grew into a new enemy, fully armed and born full-force to the battle. In all of his picturesque predicaments, Jason never faced one more impossible than this field of foes, each with its own mouthful of teeth aching to germinate.

The entire essay is here: http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/113/