Former President Gerald Ford and Saddam Hussein have nothing in common with each other, just a vast contrast and dying within two days of each other.

Hussein has been the uber-villain of the past 16 years or so in the west, over 25 years in his native land. My reaction to his hanging? Though I sympathise with John Donne about the deaths of men, I don’t have much sympathy here for someone made in God’s image, like us all, I just do not. But I don’t have anger either. Best I can offer the nasty man is the one thing he probably did not want: indifference, sheer, callous, not caring about him. I would rather care about a Kurdish woman gassed to death by his minions in his ‘resistance’.

Ford’s death on the other hand, saddens me in the way that the end of days to those full of life does. He was a civilisation builder: Eagle Scout, worked his way through school, all-star athlete at Michigan, assistant football coach and graduate student at Yale, Naval officer, developer of community building projects while starting his law firm, faithful to his wife and family to a fault, and most remembered for stepping into the breach to salve and end the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon years of American government with the most unpretentious service available. He was not a great man, in the sense of leading armies and doing something completely new, but he was better, a good man.

Hussein faced what the greatest villians of our last century did not: a trial to publicly answer for his crimes and a lawful dispensing of justice at the hangman’s noose. Most villians die in their beds, or never face real justice. Ford is being remembered for being an instrument of justice, where his weapon was his peaceable nature, and amicable spirit. Two unlikely men, from opposite sides of the world, one built civilisation, the other perverted civilisation for his own ends.

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