Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | August 9, 2010

Power without Love

Dubai, UAE en route to Houston, Texas

My friend Gil and I spent the past few days visiting friends in northern Bangladesh where we stayed at a guesthouse that had electricity for only a few hours a day. While there, we had no television or internet or any other link to the world at large. So, it was not until Sunday morning that I was able to get a copy of the Khaleej Times in Dhaka to get caught up on world news. One of the first things to catch my eye was a sidebar quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. that said, “Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic.” The newspaper carried two stories in particular that troubled me and yet illustrate the truth of Dr. King’s words.

The lead story on the front page of the newspaper was about eight foreign medical aid workers and two Afghan interpreters who were gunned down in northern Afghanistan. The Taliban claimed responsibility for this gruesome and shameless act of violence. The medics worked for International Assistance Mission, a non-profit Christian organization that has worked in Afghanistan since 1966. IAM works at the invitation of villages and serves people in some of the most remote and impoverished corners of the country. Because health services in Afghanistan are hopelessly lacking, medical aid organizations like International Assistance Mission fill a huge void by providing essential and life-saving services. Since 1966, IAM has provided medical care and other assistance to several million Afghans.

The Taliban justified their actions by alleging that these workers were “spying for the Americans” and “preaching Christianity” – charges that have yet to be proved. The murderers acted as judge, jury, and executioners. According to the testimony of an Afghan who escaped death because he quoted verses from the Quran, the unarmed medics were lined up and shot in a dense forest. These murders show that the Taliban does not care for the nation and people of Afghanistan. Blinded by hate and, according to some Muslims, a totally wrong interpretation of the Quran’s teachings about jihad, these extremists exercised power without love. The murdered aid workers showed selfless and unconditional love to the people of Afghanistan — and ultimately, doing so cost them their lives.

The second article that illustrated the truth of King’s words was entitled, “Mutilated Afghan Woman to Undergo Surgery in US.” The story was about a horrifically mutilated eighteen year-old girl named Aisha (her photo was featured on the 09 Aug 2010 cover of Time). This beautiful young girl’s nose and ears were hacked off by her husband as an act of Taliban justice because she had disgraced him by running away from home because he was violently abusive. It’s difficult for me to understand how a man can take a knife and overpower and mutilate a helpless teenage girl. This kind of reckless and abusive behavior illustrates what happens when power is not constrained by love. Thankfully for Aisha, some Westerners, the very people the Taliban hate, have stepped up to help her. Aisha will undergo reconstructive surgery at a non-profit humanitarian hospital in California – all expenses paid. That’s what love will do for a victim of senseless and reckless violence.

Dr. King was absolutely correct in observing that “power without love is reckless and abusive.” The stories in the Khaleej Times illustrate that the best that the Taliban has to offer the people of Afghanistan and those who selflessly serve them is power without love – the essential ingredient for a frightening and dark world. And, lest these Taliban murderers think they have sinned with impunity, they would do well to remember something else that Dr. King said — “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” The wheels of God’s justice may move slowly, but when they come they grind finely. These Taliban murderers and mutilators will have their day of reckoning.


  1. Power without love….

    I will have to think about these three words today.

    When the talib (students) took large clutches of real estate in Afghanistan the first time they destroyed the fragile healthcare infrastructure which was in place. It is estimated that 70 percent of the healthcare facilities were manned by women. The ladies were sent home and little girls expelled from schools. What happens when fifty percent of the demographic is sequestered within the home and depopulation of a work force is sudden and dramatic?

    Power without love…..

    Tammy Swofford

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