This morning while working out on the elliptical at the gym, I noticed the news story in which Osama bin Laden was reported to have been killed in a raid in Pakistan. It was interesting to remember my first thoughts on this report.
First: Finally, we got him. The man most responsible for the 9/11 attacks had been stopped from doing any more harm in the world. The fact that he could hide as he has for as long as he has was a constant challenge to our military and intelligence. Why could we not find one man as public as he had been? Well, for whatever success he had in eluding the U.S military, it was not permanent.
Second: Joy. In some way I believe that the world is a safer place. The fact that a man who propagated hatred and intolerance has been eliminated means that there is one less person to plan and encourage violence upon innocent human beings. Bin Laden's death is a victory for everyone who would live without fear.
But then another part of my brain surfaced with some troubling thoughts. People are celebrating the death of a man, albeit one we considered evil, but still the death of a man. Now I am not concerned that we are celebrating our version of justice for those attacks upon the innocent. But I am concerned that there might be a blurring of the lines here in our celebration.
I believe some of this comes out of my own personal faith that maintains the importance of every living human being under God. If God is love, then must not God also love Osama bin Laden? Did not Jesus die for the sins of bin Laden just as he did for myself? The fact that I believe I have accepted this fact and bin Laden probably has not does not take away from the fact that Jesus did die for him and his sins too. I find it hard to celebrate the death of someone whom Jesus loves. As I mourn for those whom I know both privately and publicly, I mourn for the death of an evil man.
I mourn for our state of being in which we believe the best way to stop hatred is with violence or that we must combat evil with deadly force. That some of the verbal attacks bin Laden has made upon the American public are seeded in accuracy. Spiritually, have we examined the cost of taking another human life? It is a price I am not happy to pay, nor am I happy to ask our military men and women pay it for me. I am grateful for their willingness to fight for me and protect this country, but I worry for the long term effects of such a will.
I believe that we were instructed not to commit murder to preserve order in society, but also to maintain our spiritual well being. When we kill, or sanction killing, it might be a part of us that dies as well. There is a price to such a victory that must be examined and even when we are willing to pay that price, that cost leads us to mourn what has been given up.
I also appreciate being able to live in a country where conversations like this are not only tolerated, but actively encouraged. This ability to be self reflective in light of one's own actions and the actions of our country, is a freedom that not everyone enjoys. Part of the victory today that I DO rejoice with is the continued freedom preserved in this country for us to determine our own faith and how that faith will impact the way we choose to live.