Monday, May 02, 2011

The Death of Osama bin Laden

Honestly, I cannot mourn nor celebrate the end of Osama bin Laden's life.

His life was marked with the suffering he caused and the chaos he brought into so many places and lives. At one time he accepted the hand of cooperation from the United States to conduct his war against infidels, committing the same acts of violence and destruction with our sanction and blessing because he was the enemy of our enemy. At that time his efforts were hailed by U.S. political leaders as inspiring and worthy of praise. But he was perpetrating the same deeds he later committed against U.S. citizens on U.S. soil.

I cannot mourn for a man whose life was so centered on evil. But I don't mean evil in relation to human quality of good or evil. bin Laden was proclaimed as a hero 30 years ago by the United States when he led the Mujahideen. At that time he was fighting the good fight. But our opinion turned in the completely opposite direction when he began the jihad against the American intrusion into his world. And then he became evil in the public eye.

So the evil of his life that I denounce is that of evil against all humanity and the greater will of God in creation. Chaos, destruction, and death in mass scale are evil. They are a direct effort to undo what God has intended for this world. Order, goodness, and life are God's desire. That is the evil he committed.

But I cannot celebrate his death, either. What makes us believe that this man is any more or less human? What makes him any more or less deserving of compassion? Was it not the Roman's, who were just as capable of being the bin Laden's of their age, that Jesus said, "Forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing." Don't we each have the capacity for chaos, destruction, and death in our own hearts when we take into account Jesus' words of Matthew 5:21-48?

But I will be ignored because we do not like to think that ALL sin is equal before God. We don't consider our trivial failures of keeping the will of God to be of similar weight to the atrocities of Osama bin Laden. We would rather celebrate the passing of an evil man with chants of "U.S.A." or a rousing "Yee-haw" than contemplate that we might not be that much different. We would rather debate the efficacy of the Obama administration in accomplishing the deed of ending this man's life (without ending the military effort that puts so many of our servicepersons in harms' way) than confess that we do have our own capacity for defying the will of God.

The news channels will be filled with rambling reports of how this was carried out and the outcome of these events. There will be prayers of joy and thanksgiving on Sunday morning that this man is dead. But in the end what will we take away from this? Will we see that justice is not measured in ending human life but giving our lives for others willfully?