A sad and sobering day...

Many of my country men and women celebrated today - upon hearing the news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed by US Navy Seals - but not me.

Don't misunderstand: I have no love for this terrorist and still grieve the wounds he inflicted upon my beloved country. I have made pilgrimage to Ground Zero on many occasions - it is still sacred ground to me - and I still weep and pray for the innocent. And I know that he had this coming - those who live by the sword will die by the sword - and all the rest. So, in many ways, I find his death a political necessity in a broken and sinful world and expected nothing less.

Rather, what strikes me as truly sad and sobering is not the necessary death of a terrorist in a violent world, but the jubilation and celebration this death has evoked throughout the USA. Spontaneous crowds chanting "USA! USA!" with blood lust in their eyes is NOT the legacy of September 11th that I want to be a part of in any way, shape or form. Again, I know that conquering tribes have always gone wild when their opponent is vanquished: from the beginning of time human beings have bathed themselves in vile acts of retribution when ever their enemy has been beaten - from a week of raping and pillaging to other assorted religiously sanctioned tortures - so I GET (and even feel) this primal urge.

But if Christ's death on the Cross means anything it has something to say to the madness of political and religious murder: for Jesus exposes to the world what if looks and feels like to be the scapegoat. Don't be confused: I am not saying that Bin Laden is a scapegoat - he was guilty - and got ended as he lived. But descending into primitive war dances over the spilled blood of our enemy is NOT how we move forward after the Twin Towers.

In a moment like this, when politicians must do what politicians must do - and I am a realist so know the lay of the land with the pols - and the fearful and easily distracted let themselves be whipped into a stupid fury, someone must share an alternative to the madness. Someone must say there is another way to move forward - beyond the blood - beyond the fear and beyond our primal addictions and carnage.

One of the cherished elders in my world, the poet Robert Bly, put it like this during the start of the Iraq madness - and on this sad and sobering day his words still ring true to me.

Dr. King STILL gets it right: "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."


Ross said…
Gimme a cite for the King quote, that's good.

Yes, I know all the realistic reasons that the powers of this world needed to work out in this way and I don't condemn this outcome any more than I condemn the incarceration of a man who abuses his spouse but ...

... but I don't rejoice, either. And I don't thank God for the killing.

I hope and pray that God will continue to work for good for those who love God, wherever they be, whoever they be.

Thank you, James, this is the first mild step back from the feeding frenzy that I have seen. Let us keep perspective.
Black Pete said…
There is a midrash that goes that while the Hebrews were dancing and rejoicing at the edge of the Red Sea after the Egyptian army was drowned, Moses noticed that God was silent.

"Aren't you happy for us, Lord?" Moses asked. "The Egyptians are drowned. We're saved, thanks to you!"

"The Egyptians were my children, too," the Lord replied.
RJ said…
Excactly... thanks to you both.
RJ said…
Ross the citing for the MLK quote is Dr. King's 1967 book, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community.
Randy said…
Well said James. Thanks

Popular Posts