Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"Fidel Fades"

"Fidel Fades Away" - That is the headline banner across the front page of today's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review with a picture of Fidel's profile in shadow.

I was thinking about this yesterday when I first heard the news that Fidel had stepped down to turn the reins of Cuba over to his younger brother, Raul. I wondered if it is possible for such a brutal dictator who governed with an iron fist for almost half a century to just "fade away."

The cartoon on the Tribune's editorial page gets it more right, I think. It features a depiction of the Devil talking to a few of his minion demons who are standing with placards at the foot of the steps down to Hell. One placard reads "Got cigars?" The artist BISH captions his drawing, Calm down, boys ... that's not what they meant when they said Castro was "stepping down."

He might go out with a bang like the recent Hezbollah terror mastermind, Imad Mughniyeh. Suspected in some of the deadliest terrorist attacks for over 25 years, Imad Mughniyeh was supposedly a role model (scary thought!) for Osama bin Laden. He died a flaming death in Syria a week ago on Valentine's Day.

But, there's just something about "fade away" that isn't right and doesn't fit to describe Fidel Castro. There's the irony of Fidel calling himself "President of Cuba" when he was really a despot who proclaimed himself to be "president." And there is the long trail of tears and bodies Castro leaves in his wake! It's hard to "fade" from the very tragic human reality of all that suffering!

If I were numbered among those who escaped from Castro's Cuba, I don't think "fade" would be the word I would want to see heralding the end of his reign of terror.

It does, however, seem to be a sign of how calloused we are to mayhem and suffering that "fade" is okay to describe such devastation as the end of all the terrors Castro pepetrated on Cuba's people and ecomomy and culture. Why are we so timid about calling it what it is? Castro is an evil man -- even if he is physically sick.

Is Fidel Castro beyond God's grace? I don't know the answer to that question, but I do know that we need to have hearts more sensitive to the plight of millions who suffer and have suffered at the hands of such cruel men around the world.

President George W. Bush is in Rwanda Africa is speaking out against the genocide that has devastated the people of that region. President Bush said that the situation in Darfur and the lessons we should have learned from the brutal 1994 Rwandan genocide should be a clarion trumpet call across the world to stand against such evil. The call and responsibility for Christians is even greater!

When we know God's grace and love, then we need to take tough stands against injustice and evil wherever that evil raises it's ugly head! God calls us to action!

I seriously doubt that members of the Cuban community in Florida would ever consider it appropriate for such a villian as Fidel Castro to "fade away." Many of them bear on their persons the marks of tortue before their escape from "Castro's paradise." I'm old enough to remember well all the boat and raft and whatever would float loads of people desperately trying to escape from the so-called "paradise."

We cannot and must not turn away from the suffering around us if we ever hope to push back the darkness with the Light of Jesus' love! We must boldly speak the truth and seek to right wrongs where we can. It's God's way to live in this world that is in such desperate need of restoration!

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