October 1, 2010


On Thursday, I wrote a blog which celebrated a writer’s non-judgmental analysis of the world, an attitude I thought the rest of the population might emulate. Today, I’ve read an article which debunks my point of view (Blog 9/30/2010). It was an interview with Pakistani author, Fatima Bhutto, the niece of Benazir Bhutto, assassinated leader of that country and daughter of Murtaza Bhutto, also a once beloved leader. Her new book is entitled: Songs of Blood and the Sword: A Daughter’s Memoir.“  It has yet to be released in the United States but I presume the interview was a prelude to that.

As the article reveals, this author has seen a good deal of strife in her young life, much of it the result of internecine warfare within the power hungry Bhutto family — a war which the interviewer describes as “at times absurdly Greek, Shakespearean, Borgian, Moghul…”  And certainly, reading about the danger she has endured and the loss of loved ones, my heart goes out to her. I can only marvel at her courage in writing her book and promoting it in Pakistan where her name alone has garnered her deadly enemies. To charge her memoir with a lack of objectivity, as the interviewer does, strikes me as a foolish observation; but I did wonder if she had learned anything from her experiences… if at any point in assembling her thoughts for the book, she’d stepped back to see the pattern of bloodshed that comes from being too certain of one’s position.

Near the end of the interview Fatima Bhutto is asked if she would be willing to reconcile with a nephew, a rising star in Pakistani politics but from the hostile side of the family.  Her answer:               

     “I don’t see how people who’ve been raised in such different ways can…  I think we believe in very different things and very different journeys and belief systems and certainly they are their parents’ children and I am mine.  And that is that.”

Her answer made me sad and brought to mind Immanuel Kant’s admonition that true morality is not that which comes easily but that which is difficult. “That is that,” is the mantra of a closed mind.  “That is that,” makes thoughts of peace impossible and war certain. 

I wish Ms. Bhutto well in her book launching. Given her background, her connections and the story she has to tell, I’m certain her book will garner a good audience and make her publisher happy. But until she goes beyond “that is that,” as her world view, she’ll accomplish little for her country. And I’m pretty sure “that is that” will keep her from becoming a great writer, too.