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The terrors of my youth

When I was young, Gaddafi was a striking figure. Not handsome by any of my measures, but straight-backed, uniformed, in a military cap and dark glasses. He projected an aura of confidence and of power and of credibility – whether any of that was true or not. He appeared in any number of news stories with the implied subtext: “This is your enemy”

And it was easy to believe.

Roll on to 2011, and Gaddafi’s overlong television broadcast. Looking like an aging, senile, homeless street-rat, the Libyan dictator rambled on and on in front of the camera, speaking like a man who had no idea why he was in the room. All strength and power fled, with the credibility of a homeless alcoholic begging for loose change.

And now he’s gone. One of the great terrors of my youth, powerless and dead. Not from any bullet – though there was surely at least one involved – but taken by time and age and all the ills that flesh and mind are heir to. Long before any weapon stilled his actual body, the fearsome man had ceased to exist; just a hollow shell, blown in the wind.

Sometimes we grow out of the terrors of our youth, and sometimes they outgrow us and pass into dust and history.

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Categories: Culture, Opinion.

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