Saturday, April 12th, marked the 6-month anniversary when a group of men, not of this island and fundamentally unable to grasp Bali's special message of peace, fosterted unspeakable misery by planting bombs at two Bali night spots that claimed the lives of some 200 people.
Presumably motivated by the hope that their mindless acts of violence would reap an unending cycle of further violence between religious and ethnic groups - similar to earlier episodes in Ambon, Kalimantan and Sulawesi Ė the terrorists were ultimately frustrated from achieving their goals. Forsaking a natural sense of anger, the people of Bali responded with compassion and tolerance, united in their rejection of the hate and anger embodied in those cruel attacks of a Saturday night in October.
An Act Done by Men Who Love to Hate and Hate to Love
Refusing to accept the blasphemy of those who arrogated to themselves a religious basis for their barbarity, the people of Bali saw the attacks for what they were: the godless acts of small men who neither fear nor believe in God.
Similarly, one of the Country's leading Islamic organizations, the Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI) quickly issued a call for the harshest possible punishment for those convicted of involvement in the crime.
An Island United
Wisely choosing to use our grief as a point of unity, organizers of memorial and religious services following the bombings made special efforts to include every religious and ethnic group in such ceremonies. The island's residents were united as victims; revealing to the world their shared pain and the camaraderie born of common adversity.
Ironically, while attending to our injured and dead, Bali managed to inspire a world shocked by the October bombings. An island in the troughs of unspeakable sadness revealed its innate spirituality.
Prevailing, despite our unpseakable sadness, this was Bali at its very best.
The bombings also marked a turning point in a nation's emotional development. No longer able to discount or ignore the worldwide threat posed by terrorism, Indonesia following the bombings joined that world-wide battle. Top investigative officers representing the elite of the world's police agencies under the coordination of Bali's charismatic hard-nose cop, Irjen. I Made Pastika, managed to successfully charge 29 people in connection with the bombings, all now awaiting trial in Bali.
Facing the future and heavily dependent on a tourism-based economy, the Balinese still manage to somehow smile. Trial following tribulation landing in a series of rapid body blows, the Balinese have suffered economic upheaval, 9-11, the October bombings, negative international travel advisories, war with Iraq, and the current SARS crisis with amazing equanimity.
When the world produces an over-abundance of lemons, the Balinese make lemonade, reflecting their belief that it is mankind's role to create balance and harmony, whenever and wherever those commodities are found lacking.
CNN in an on-line story entitled "Slow Recovery for Bali's Economy" offers a sobering yet appropriately positive view of Bali's future via the link below.
CNN.COM 'Slow Recovery for Bali's Economy'
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