Tuesday, May 3, 2011

On the Death of Osama bin Laden

I got the news by text message from my husband.  He is out of town and I had been bathing the children and putting them to bed when the news of bin Laden's death broke.  I read the message in bed, as I was setting my alarm for work in the morning.  "Did you hear the news? Bin Laden is dead."

Hmm, I thought.  And then I got up, because I realized I'd forgotten to brush my teeth.  Then, tucked under my covers again, I used my phone's limited internet capabilities to check the headlines.  My thoughts at that time were disjointed, and they still pretty much are.

1) Too bad this victory is probably just symbolic.  Bin Laden's death will probably do little to nothing to free the U.S. from the two wars in which it is currently mired.

2) The reveling crowds on the White House lawn look too much like the jubilant crowds that cheered the destruction on 9/11.  When that happens, when we celebrate and exult in a person's death, do we not become that which we despise?

3) The way this event has turned into something else for Christians to fight over has been truly disheartening.  Scripture has been quoted all over the place, to justify the various reactions and opinions of people from all parts of Christendom.  I have also seen Christians calling each other names and slinging insults back and forth because of those reactions.  Why must we always reduce complex situations and issues down to such a vile, simplistic, us vs. them, I'm-right-you're-wrong kind of mentality?  It troubles my heart.

4) The way some Christians equate patriotism and faith makes me deeply uncomfortable (as does seeing an American flag in a church sanctuary, or the thought of pledging allegiance to one).  And I am made even more uncomfortable when Christians go around telling other Christians, "If you aren't celebrating this act of justice, then you are wrong," or, conversely, "If you think it's okay to be glad he's dead, you're wrong."  The issues here are complex, and each person's perspective is unique and personal to her, but we should each be free to process this news and handle our reactions as we see fit. 

I never thought I'd find myself in agreement with Katy Perry, a flavor-of-the-week, hyper-sexualized pop star and purveyor of truly awful music, but in a little round-up of celebrity tweets about the news, she had this to say: I believe in justice... but don't u think that an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind? ☹
[5/4/2011 Update: I know KP was quoting Ghandi here.  Should have said that to begin with.  Carry on. :)]

So here it is: I (pretty much) agree with Katy.  Eye-for-an-eye-style justice is living by the sword, and Jesus said those who live that way will die that way.  I just can't bring myself to exult in the death of this man, no matter how great an enemy he was.  This is not because I am a bleeding heart liberal, or because I don't love America, or because I am a pansy.  As a Christian, I cannot bring myself to celebrate the death of another human being, because I cannot imagine my Lord doing so.  That's how I understand the matter, and I am to live according to my conscience.

As to whether murdering the murderer amounts to justice or horrible, twisted irony, I will save that for another day.

No comments:

Post a Comment