A Nightmare: My Father, Saddam

I don’t remember dreams that often, and nightmares are in the minority of those I do remember, but last night I had a memorable nightmare.

Of course, I don’t remember exactly how I found myself in the predicament of my dream, but here it is: my father was none other than Saddam Hussein, and he was about to kill me by blowing my brains out with a pistol shot to the head.

As we all know, dreams don’t have to make sense while they are happening. They just are, and we have to accept the situations they place us in. I think I tried reasoning within the dream a little. Saddam, my father? That doesn’t make sense. But finally, there was no getting around it. This was real, and the gun was at my temple.

Although I had no reason to believe Saddam would spare me once he had determined I was to die (I’ve seen footage of him watching his comrades being escorted out of the Baath Party Congress to be shot on his orders, as they pleaded that there was a mistake, that they were loyal.), whether or not I was his son—which I didn’t feel myself to be—I said something like “How can you kill me? I haven’t done anything wrong, have I? I’m your son.” Actually, I don’t remember what I said to him, only that it was a desperate last-second plea. The important thing (for understanding the dream) was his surprising reply: “That’s not my business.”

What? This powerful dictator with a gun at my head, supposedly my father, was telling me that the why of my death through his imminent action was not really his business! This answer implied that he was only doing what he had to do, that he himself was only carrying out orders in some way.

The trigger was never pulled, or if it was I awoke before the bullet penetrated my skull. Relieved to realize I was safe in my own familiar bed, with no gun at my head, I lay awake to ponder the meaning of the dream. Which I think I have found.

Dreams are metaphorical dramas. Saddam was an implacable killer, against whom I was powerless. But, contrary to what I would have thought, he had no motive, however crazy, for wishing me dead. He was just doing his job in some sense. He was not the all-powerful man I imagined him to be.

There was nothing personal about it. The Saddam in my dream was a heartless killer, but neither sadistic, angry, nor calculating. And he was supposedly my father. What else could this Saddam be but Nature? Nature has given us life, as a father does, and it will eventually, when the time comes, subtract us from this world as cooly as Saddam Hussein might have, but without willing it.

“That’s not my business,” Saddam said in my dream. Whose business is it? That is the mystery we all either try to find the answer to or try to ignore.

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