Osama bin Laden was killed in a U.S. raid of his home in Pakistan over the weekend. I found out about this last night when Drew logged onto one of his social networking sites.
The first wave of reactions: nearly universal glee.
This makes me uncomfortable. Yes, Osama was responsible for decades of severe human suffering. I completely understand feeling relieved or happy that he can no longer orchestrate the injury or death of anyone but there’s something that bothers me about spontaneous outdoor parties celebrating the fact that someone else is no longer alive.
Osama’s death is the end of possibilities. When someone is still alive there is always the hope of rehabilitation. A corpse can’t be tried in a court of law or sentenced for his crimes. The dead cannot atone for what they have done any more than they help those they have hurt find closure. Death is the last sentence in the life story of an individual. The loose strings of everything left unsaid and unlearned flap in the breeze. In this case there are a a hell of a lot of strings.
A single death isn’t going to nullify the danger of al-Qaeda. If anything I’ve read speculation that it will energize their followers and we will see more acts of violence against innocent people in retaliation. I hope these predictions are wrong, that if nothing else Osama’s death will mark the beginning of the end of their power.
No comment on what the U.S. should or could have done instead. I don’t know what the best answer is but neither can I celebrate the death of another human being.
A final thought. I’m borrowing this from the Facebook page of a friend but will leave self-identification up to that individual. 🙂
As you talk about this news, I hope you will consider how your response can counter rather than reinforce the cycles of violence that spin around us. And please God, help us bring healing beauty to the ugliness of violence in whatever small way we can. Today.