Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama Bin Laden Is Dead -- Should We Rejoice?

Osama Bin Laden is confirmed dead, and as news of his demise spread, videos and reports of worldwide cheer exploded across the media. Thousands of people flocked to the streets, carrying children on their shoulders and screaming victory over evil.

I first heard of Bin Laden’s death last night, when one of my sons came downstairs and informed me of the breaking news he saw reported on CNN. We turned the TV on, and after a moment of disbelief, I was actually saddened by the reactions of the people. Yes, Osama Bin Laden was an infamous figure, and he was responsible for the death of many thousands of people all over the world, but should we really rejoice over the death of a human being?

President Obama announced to the families of the victims of 9/11 that justice is done, and his sentiment was shared by several leaders who felt Bin Laden’s death marks the end of an era, but even that statement led me to think. My heart goes out to the victims of any act of terror and their families, but how does the death of a man bring upon justice? In my opinion justice would have been served if Bin Laden was captured and tried for his crimes. His death only exonerated him from facing the consequences of his actions.

Strangely enough, Adolf Hitler, whose crimes against humanity will forever be etched in the mind of the collective, was confirmed dead on April 30, 1945. The same day, sixty-six years apart. Coincidence? Maybe so, maybe not.

I remember reading once that this world has seen two teachers of compassion – the Dalai Lama and Adolf Hitler. When I first read the statement, I found it hard to accept, but as I continued reading, I understood something different: Teachers use different teaching methods to drive the same lessons home. The Dalai Lama uses unconditional love to teach compassion, Hitler used unconditional hatred, two opposite faces of the same powerful feeling. The Dalai Lama teaches us to love one another because we are all expressions of the same creation, and Hitler taught us to see oneness by default, after people were senselessly murdered because of superficial differences.

What lesson did Osama Bin Laden teach the world during his stay on Earth? Much like Hitler, he raised negative feelings in a selected few and he caused the rest of the world to stick to one cause: Humanity. Through Bin Laden’s actions, and the actions of his followers, the world understood that we are all one despite our differences, and in the greater scheme of things we are all brothers and sisters; the tragedies that befall one befall all of us as a whole.

Bin Laden is dead, and many believe human justice is served. Is divine justice also served? As the Vatican Spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, declared: “Osama bin Laden, as we all know, had the very grave responsibility of spreading division and hatred amongst the people, causing the death of countless of people, and of instrumentalizing religion for this end," he said. "In front of the death of man, a Christian never rejoices but rather reflects on the grave responsibility of each one in front of God and men, and hopes and commits himself so that every moment not be an occasion for hatred to grow but for peace."


Georgia said...

Thank you. I was beginning to think that the entire world had gone mad! I know that he did monstrous things but it seems so inappropriate to actually 'rejoice' over someone's death. It's nice to know that there are other people out there who find today extremely unsettling.

Sandra Carrington-Smith said...

Thank you for reading and commenting, Georgia. We denounced people in the Middle East when they cheered the death of Americans, and we called them animals, yet we turn around and do the same thing. That's pretty sad, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

This was actually my first reaction as well. When I first learned about it I felt sad that people would be happy that another human being was killed. Then when I woke up this morning I went on and saw a large picture of smiling people, cheering and waving American flags in celebration. I believe that it is appropriate for us to celebrate the fact that he no longer presents a threat to us, but I feel that people are not celebrating that, but are celebrating his death out of hatred for another human.

Sandra Carrington-Smith said...

Anonymous, unfortunately we live in the mind set of avengeance. An eye for an eye is what comes to mind, and because of it we continue to perpetuate violence and righteous judgment. The people who cheered the death of Americans felt they were justified because they believe Americans are evil; our people feel justified because they feel Bin Laden was evil. And so the battle continues on the basis of whom is right or wrong.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for putting into words what I was feeling, but having difficulty expressing. I am so happy to know that I am not the only one feeling this way as I watch everyone around me rejoice.

Sandra said...

I am actually surprised at the number of people who seem to share how we feel -- to be honest with you, when I first posted this blog entry I thought many readers would be enraged, but as it turns out, I received a lot of supportive feedback on different sites. Maybe there is hope for this old world of ours. :)

Mike Rumble said...

I too had a 2-sided reaction. On the one side, at first, I was rather relieved that the mastermind behind the senseless attacks on our country was gone; but on the other side, I also came to the realization that with his death, someone lost a husband, a father, and a family member. That makes it all very sad no matter how we feel about him.

I think Martin Luther King Jr. summed it up best in the following quote that my mom shared with me:

"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

The one striking thing I did notice from most of the celebration pictures at Ground Zero, is how the new "Freedom Tower" is rising in the background. As we approach the anniversary of the attacks, I encourage all of us to not look at how our world crumbled down that sad day; but how we as a people have come together and are once again rising up as a strong unified nation. That would be the greatest tribute we could ever give to those who lost their lives on 9/11.