Sunday, May 1, 2011

Osama Bin Laden, dead...and people are rejoicing

Chris (my 14-year-old son) conveyed the news that Osama Bin Laden is dead. As I'm explaining 9/11 to my second grader (who was not even born when that occurred), he is asking me whether we should celebrate his death. I told him that it's complicated. I'm feeling highly ambivalent about this news. In theory I'm a pacifist--against the death penalty, and all that...but what can you say about someone who does evil?

My Facebook wall soon lit up with people celebrating his death...and a few expressing concern about the rejoicing. Here are some wise quotes from some of my friends:
  • Okay, why is everyone rejoicing over death of this particular human? Didn't Osama Bin Laden rejoice over death and destruction?
  • I will never see this as justice. People only wanted him dead is a symbolic cathartic release for evil that had unexpectedly happened upon us 10 years ago. If his death creates more peace, I will be pleasantly surprised, but I only see his death as creating more death in retaliation. Osama Bin Laden had even taken an almost non-existant role in Al'Qaeda after 9/11 attacks, so I can only see this spurring more violence.
  • I am prayerful that the death of Osama bin Laden is a catalyst for peace in the Middle East and finally offers some closure for our country and those affected by 9/11. It has been a long battle, and really, there are NO winners...
  • Bin Laden dead...My husband said they got the head of the snake. My fear is that it may grow back.
As someone whose faith and moral beliefs oppose the taking of another human life (ala the death penalty or by war), I struggle with how I'm feeling about this news. I do believe that in certain cases (like Hitler), war can be a necessary evil.
I do recognize that if I had a friend or family member who died on 9/11, I might feel differently.

But explaining this situation to my children? That people across the country are celebrating this death? How do you justify that to a child, no matter how evil his actions? And of course, it's going to result in strong repercussions across the Islamic fundamentalist terror cells. I just pray that it does not result in even more violence, but I'm not hopeful.

Some Facebook friends predict that this has just won Obama reelection. However, Americans are truly fickle. I project that his approval ratings will go up, but it will be temporary. And we all know that Donald Trump (or John Boehner?) will take credit for this. This "victory" will not last long.

So many lives have been lost over the past 10 years. I don't see an end in sight, even though Osama bin Laden is dead.

It's complicated.

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