Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Decision to Live

Sarah wrote an interesting post examining the behavior of terrorists’ hostages, and expressing her hope that if she were taken hostage, she wouldn’t bow to the terrorists and claim to convert to Islam or beg for her release, but instead she hoped she’d
stand up for what she believes in “and show the enemy how an American dies.”

I too have always admired Fabrizio Quattrocchi for the words he screamed before being executed by his captors: “Now I'll show you how an Italian dies." It was an amazing sign of courage. With those last words, he managed to destroy any kind of propaganda value of the footage of his execution; instead the terrorists just became snuff film producers. I am surprised they even released the footage, considering how embarrassing the message was to their cause: even when faced with certain death, Quattrocchi refused to bow to the terrorists. He wasn’t scared. They were never going to be the masters of his fate. Even though he died at their hands, he wasn’t going to let them “own” him or even take responsibility for his killing. With those last words, he took back his life. He died fighting terrorism, but he didn’t lose to terrorism.

Marianne Pearl writes a monthly article for Glamour magazine, and wrote of her husband’s bravery during his captivity, how he smiled when they filmed him with a gun to his head and never really lost himself during his captivity, never caving in. She has also been a beacon of hope in many ways, vowing to live her life honoring Daniel’s death. When their son was born a few months after Daniel’s brutal and very public murder, the photo released showing her glowing face next to their newborn’s, was a slap in the face to any message of fear her husband’s murderers were trying to convey.

I don’t know how I would behave if abducted. It reminds me of that old anecdote about a dinner discussion over prostitution. At an uppity dinner party a woman says she how vile she finds prostitution, and her conversation partner, and older and quite dashing man asks: “well, would you spend the evening with me for a million dollars?” And she laughed, responding that she would consider it. And then he asked: “Well, would you sleep with that man over there for $10?” And she exclaimed: “Never! Do you think I am a whore?” To which he responded: “Well, we have already established that you are, but now we are trying to find out your price.”

And that is how I view peoples’ behavior in captivity of hostages. I think everyone has their price. A threshold beyond which their values can be for sale. For some the price is lower than others. For Quattrocchi, his life wasn’t worth giving up his values. The Pearls and Quattrocchis of this world are an inspiration, but I really don’t know what my threshold is.


Blogger Sarah said...

I think it's sad that in my comments section, one guy asked what he was supposed to do as a father, just leave his kids fatherless? And that was entirely my point. I'm not saying I'm better than him for wanting to make a different decision, but if every American says "someone else has to fight because I have kids", then we're doomed.

3:14 PM  
Blogger CaliValleyGirl said...

Yep. It's sad, the commentor seems to ignore the fact that many soldiers are parents too. I would hope that I would stay strong, but I just don't know. Your post was thought-provoking.

5:22 PM  
Blogger Teresa said...

Say what we will, none of us know what we would do unless directly involved in a situation. It's good to think about and to direct your mind to what you feel inside is the right course to pursue. Then you hope like hell you can stick to it when the going gets deadly.

I'd like to think I could stick it and tell a terrorist "up yours". But until confronted I could never claim to be as brave as Quattrocchi or Pearl. (I don't include soldiers in this because they are brave in an entirely different way and I know I can't match that!)

4:26 AM  
Blogger Nicole said...

I recently watched an interview with Jill Carroll and I kept trying to imagine that kind of intense fear...I don't think a person ever could.

4:32 AM  
Blogger Courtney said...

That is very thought provoking. I have no idea how I would respond. I think everyone wishes they would be strong but it really comes down to a "you have to be there" kind of situation.

6:49 AM  
Blogger StoicMom said...

I'm glad you wrote this. I've been thinking about this too and wondering if I would have converted-at-gun-point or pledged allegience to my own God. I hope I would have enough faith to stand up to the terrorists. But having never been tested, I really don't know how strong I am. I don't fault those reporters for their actions. They will be judging themselves for the rest of their lives, they don't need my judgements.

1:10 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

StoicMom -- I know about not being tested. The other night I woke up with a horrible charley horse. The next morning I told my husband that it was the worst pain I'd ever felt. And then I sheepishly said, "I don't really know what pain is, do I?" I know I'd have to be in a hostage situation to really know how I'd react, but I want to believe I could put my money where my mouth is.

2:51 PM  
Blogger MQ said...

Wow, I could only hope to be that brave. I agree Sarah, I'm even glad to be a soldier's spouse and not a soldier myself. I'm not sure I'm brave enough to be even a soldier :(

3:14 AM  

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