“Gadhafi is history” a Libyan official said, when announcing on October 20th, 2011, that Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi (commonly known as Moammar Gadhafi) had been killed by Libyan rebels. It is the end of a cruel, violent and utterly repressive dictatorship that started in 1969 with a military coup that was, at the time, welcomed by many.
Several years ago I wrote about Ozymandias of Egypt, one of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s most well-known works. That poem speaks poignantly of how most of what we think of as impressive in our lives and the lives of others is taken away by time, until finally nothing much remains. It is a reminder to us to touch as many lives as possible in a positive way every day, as our small way to ensure that some part of our spirit remains forever. I don’t think that is a selfish goal–and it will help us stayed focused on what really matters. In Shelley’s poem he describes Ozymandias as having a “…heart that fed.” Ozymandias had a heart that consumed rather than contributed. You and I want to be contributors.
Moammar Gadhafi, so it has been said, often referred to himself as “The King of Kings.” I think the title was taken already, so that makes it even a bit more presumptious of him! However, during his lifetime there were many who lined the streets when he drove past and shouted his praises as if he deserved them. (A lesson for us there, as well!)
With Gadhafi’s self-given royal title in mind, I was particularly anxious to re-read Shelley’s poem. Take the time to read it, almost as if it is standard text, so you can fully appreciate the message.
Ozymandias of Egypt
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
At some point, all of us are history. We have no control over that. But we can control a good part of the present and in so doing make a difference in how we are remembered and how much we will have enriched the lives of our loved ones, friends and even chance acquaintances.
Stop for a moment and listen to the sound of the wind whistling around the fallen statue of Ozymandias. Watch as the sand swirls and shifts from there to the death site of Moammar Gadhafi. Then, do something very, very good with your life today!