photo © 2009 D. Sharon Pruitt | more info (via: Wylio)
Osama bin Laden is dead.
I was on Twitter last night when the news broke ahead of the news conference. And I admit it, as the jubilation and celebration poured in, I was actually sickened.
And people wonder why I call myself “uneasy” pacifist.
Is it joy I feel? No, no, it’s not. I’m not waving any country’s flags and chanting slogans with glee at the death of another human being, even a wicked one. (Did the scenes on the news remind anyone else of the reaction of the Afghanistan etc. when Sept 11 happened? The jubilation and cheering in the streets? Maybe we’re not so different after all.) I can’t rejoice when another person is dead. Either life is sacred or it’s not. I am pro-life – for babies, for terrorists, for everyone between. I always believe with hope, I always take the posture of believing the best (it’s a spiritual discipline sometimes). I do believe that Jesus loved Osama bin Laden like he loves me – and you. And I can’t rejoice when another person has blood on their hands even if it is at the request of the state.
Yet he was an evil man. I can’t muster up much sadness for him. According to what I believe, I am pretty sure that that he met God last night and is likely understanding for the first time what his hatred and murderous actions have cost him and humanity. I heard someone refer to it as a “necessary evil” and I would agree with that. It is evil to murder but in this case, in our fallen world, it’s “necessary.”
Neither do I feel relief. This has not ended anything. The world is not safer. There will be retaliations, there will be payback. You can’t murder murder and so the cycle spins on, out of control, perpetuating more hatred and euphemistic phrases for killing. Now he’s a martyr for the cause.
This is not closure. I understand, I do, that for some people this feels like closure. This feels like “an eye for an eye” and it feels like justice. It feels like closing the book on a nightmare. But it’s not closure. It can’t be closure when it’s just going on and on and on. And as long as we keep this up, it will always go on.
Instead, I’m only grieving and remembering. And praying.
10 years ago, the sight of towers crumbling. I am remembering my horror – true shrieking horror – as people flung themselves out of high rises rather than remain inside to be burned alive. I am remembering people covered in blood and dust, the terror and agony we all felt. I am remembering the weeping and the mourning all across the world. I was in the States at that time of my life and I remember the patriotism, the giving, the love and even yes, the anger and need for revenge.
Today I’m grieving for every child that has grown up without a parent, every mother who buried her child, every person with nightmares and pain and fear.
I’m also remembering the military and their families. Those that serve and serve and serve, those that are wounded emotionally and physically, those that lost their lives. I am remembering them far away from their families, struggling and battling.
I’m remembering the thousands and thousands Iraqi and Afghani citizens that are referred to as “collateral damage,” the children growing up without parents, the mothers who buried their children, the twisted bodies in the sandy streets and hate-filled mobs screaming for revenge – again. I’m remembering the purple forefingers of first-time voters and the girls with disfigured faces from acid attacks because they dared to go to school. The aid workers and the brave ones who stand against tyranny in a million small ways.
I feel raw and confused.
What is the way of peace?
Are we naive enough to think that this has ended anything?
What is the way of unity and wholeness in our world?
What is the Christian response here? (When Brian and I were talking about it last night, I posed that question and he laughed in my face. “You mean, what’s A Christian response. That’s the whole point of the unity/disunity thing: there is no one Christian response to anything. Ever.“)
How very wrong it is. It’s all wrong. There is nothing that is right side up about this.
There is nothing right about what happened on September 11th. Nothing right about terrorism and murder. And there is nothing right about war, about targeted assassination. There is nothing right about the use of violence to achieve peace. There is nothing right about civilian casualties, about families torn apart, about asking another human being to murder for you, about celebration flash-mobs chanting USA! USA! USA! at the death of another soul, no matter how wicked.
So I’m left again in a place of waiting on God and his kingdom.
I pray – oh, I pray – for the world leaders, for the families, for our victims, for our perpetrators, for all of us.
Come Lord Jesus.