Letter to Bin Laden! and to all the men like him

by: Fariborz Mofidian

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Mr. Bin Laden!

I let my imagination run wild the other night, and wondered the impossible: What if I were YOU! What would I have done if I possessed your immense wealth, and inherited your blind hatred for America and Americans.

I imagined that I went to a country called Afghanistan.   A country torn apart and ravaged by foreign invasions and internal tribal wars.  A mountainous land of beautiful and courageous people, living in destitute and in dire need of help.  I imagined that I offered my entire wealth and my time to bring this country and its beautiful people back on its feet.

First and foremost, I created schools for all Afghani children to have access to free education.  I hired teachers from abroad to come and create the foundation and infrastructure of a first class academic system for all Afghani youth.  I created sport centers, so they could train and develop their bodies as well as their minds.  I allowed them to taste and experience loving and being loved in this world and let them take a rain-check on the seventy virgins of the hereafter!

I created medical centers in every corner, so they could have easy access to medical treatment.  I invited all volunteers in the medical field to come and spend some time in these centers and offer their expertise.  I hired experts from abroad to come and modernize their industrial and agricultural sectors and made it a self-sufficient and even exporting country.

When all this was accomplished, when I made Afghanistan a "paradise", I invited all the members of the $500,000,000 club in the world to come and visit Afghanistan.  I showed them that compassion, creativity, and determination makes everything possible.  Then I encouraged all those guests to go around the world and adopt a country of their choice and do the same there, until poverty and ignorance and deprivation had vanished from the face of our great planet.

I imagined that I was given the Nobel Prize for my work, and my face was on the cover of TIME magazine as "The man of the century."  But I imagined that the greatest satisfaction I felt was the fact that I had helped to eradicate the real sources and reasons of war and enmity.  And most important, I had shown America what I was all about.

I opened my eyes and realized, in horror, that it was THAT! Just a brief interlude and escape for a tired mind and a chagrined spirit.  Yes, Mr. Bin Laden.  You chose the "other" route, and if you forgive my presumptuousness, the wrong path.  Not only did you not help the cause of the underdog and the "victims" of this world, but managed to add to the misery and suffering of our planet.  More orphans, more grieving parents, more poverty and homelessness, more suspicion and anger and hatred.  I hear some people call you "evil-genius" these days.  Forgive me if I fail to see the genius! I live here in America, and all I see is that you have made this nation more resolute, more united and more compassionate and giving than ever before.

But you see, you have failed not because you are facing a super-power or a military might.  Rather because of the unholy and unforgivable premise of your reasoning and argument.  I am not a great student of history, but it seems to me that hate, deception, and revenge are always temporary.  That love, truthfulness, and forgiveness are much more powerful and eternal.

The forces of darkness will always find a pretext to justify their sinister actions.  I am sure you would have found another pretext, another reason and another justifying means were it not the "Soviets "or the "Americans."

Why would some rather fight than make peace, or hate instead of love or seek vengeance instead of forgiveness?  I do not have the answer.  But I do know this much: My grand father, bless his soul, was a devout Muslim.  He was clean shaven of course and wore a suite and a tie.  But I remember that every dawn, I would wake up with his beautiful voice singing tearfully to his creator.  The crying was not sad or depressing, but joyful and elevating.  His words with his creator were one of absolute love and devotion.  Though he seeked constant forgiveness for all from his almighty, I never sensed fear or desperation or frustration in his words or his voice.  There was always a serenity, a beautiful smile and an aura of divinity about him.  I wished he was still around.  With his strong faith, his fantastic prose and great knowledge, he would have made a much more powerful argument that I have tried to make in this letter.