for ISKCON News on Sept. 1, 2011
Frantically planting themselves in front of their man, the two women screamed at the first assaulter rushing into the dark bedroom. Bear-hugging the ladies, the muscular attacker hurled them aside.
Split-second decisions had put human lives on the line for the sake of others. Shielding their husband, the wives were ready to die for him. Unhesitantly embracing the women, wrestling them, the soldier, well-trained in lethal arts, was ready to die for his team. By his absorbing the blast from suicide vests the wives could be wearing, his life would end. But his comrades, fast behind him, would suffer only minimal wounds, and the mission might succeed. Amazing—the spontaneous human urge to sacrifice everything for a perceived right cause. Fortunate for him, the ladies were not clad in explosives.
Quickly the infrared aiming sight from an M4 rifle trained upon the chest of the lanky, bearded man the wives had hoped to protect. One bullet to that chest tumbled him; the next one above the left eye insured his fate. Reincarnation time.
Immediately the Navy SEAL commando radioed to his superiors, as the White House listened: “For God and country, E.K.I.A.—“enemy killed in action.” The world’s most notorious abuser of religion was gone. “We got him,” the President solemnly intoned.
“For God, for country,” how throughout history those words have motivated humanity—for better or worse. I remember my university years, the dormitory rooms decked with blue and grey banners: “For God, for Country, for Yale.” I respected Yale for the premier education it gave. About the Country, amidst the Viet Nam War, I wasn’t too convinced. And I was certain deep, comprehensive knowledge of God was a universal shortage.
Osama bin Laden left no doubt about his devilish misinterpretation of divine backing. Trumpeting his abominable jihad terrorism to the world, he ensured the vehement condemnation of both the religious and the secular.
Be it always so easy, to discern right from wrong? And what about us decent folk—are we always fully beyond reproach? Have we full knowledge of the correct course of action in every situation? I’m reminded of an old TV commercial for a certain make of car. Presenting its car dealers as jolly champions of the people—every breath in pure service to the public—the commercial resounded: “You can always tell the Good Guys, they wear the white hats!”
The day before the secret operation to rub out Crankshaft, the code name for Bin Laden, the President conveyed his hearty hopes to the mission's leader: "Godspeed to you and your forces."
Target eliminated, the helicopters bearing the special operatives flew out of Pakistan back to the base in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the Vice-President, faithfully fingering a rosary, opined to the Joint Chiefs chairman. “We should all go to Mass tonight.”
Upon the Navy SEALS returned stateside, the President met them at a military base in Kentucky. They presented him with a souvenir from the successful raid: a flag that had been on board one of the helicopters, autographed by all the operatives, emblazoned with “‘For God and country.”
The deputy national-security adviser, who travelled with the President to meet the SEAL team, affirmed: “It was an extraordinary base visit. They knew he had staked his Presidency on this [the raid]. He knew they staked their lives on it.”
Human beings often seek to offer even their totality for an inspiring or necessary cause, especially for God’s sake. Upon reading of this Bin Laden termination—most of its fuller, more accurate accounts emerging months later—I mused aloud that maybe indeed, Bhagavad-gita isn’t so unusual after all.
In the Gita, the hero Arjuna has to fight a dastardly foe, illegally occupying the government for grossly greedy purposes. Aggressive self-aggrandizement their public program, this ruthless crew had even sought to poison Arjuna’s family members, incinerate them by arson, and publicly strip his wife. Consequently, as a professional military man, Arjuna had the noble duty to protect not only the citizens, but also his own family.
Now add into the mix Krishna, and suddenly the situation escalates into Divine Design. The wonder of Bhagavad-gita is that, more than by mere wishful thinking or theological interpretation, the Divine is actually present on the battlefield—fully manifest, the Supreme descended.
In spite of Arjuna’s sudden leniency, born of soft-heartedness, Lord Krishna majestically impels him onward. Leaving us no doubt as to who wears the white hats, and who, like weeds in a garden, has to disappear, Krishna presents His cosmic program for uplifting all living entities:
“If ever I ceased to demonstrate proper actions and duties, all the worlds would become disastrous. Consequently, I would bear blame, for allowing the destruction of universal peace and progressiveness. (B. Gita 3.24)
“Whenever dharma, essential human behavior, declines and fails, and malignant values predominate—at that time I appear in this world.
“Again and again, I manifest My Self, to nourish the virtuous, to dispel the deviant, and to reestablish dharma, authentically progressive lifestyles.” B. Gita 4.7-8)
Just think, more than just an exotic, ancient text from the East, the Gita could also be almost as contemporarily American as cherry pie.