Ok, so everyone is talking about this, and I guess I will put my .02 in as well.
Last night I was getting ready for bed and I was checking my twitter account before sack time and I saw these slightly obtuse references to what eventually was the official report of his death. I popped up stairs to watch it on old media, that being the TV. The usual talking heads were going on about stuff they really had no clue about waiting for the official announcement. They were all going on about how everyone would remember where they were when they heard the announcement.
I was like really? 20 years from now, I am going to remember this? Well, maybe.
Fortunately it didn’t take too long for the President to come on and lay it out.
I was a little baffled by my reaction. I was like, there you have it.
In the morning I saw reports and photos of people celebrating and again I was caught up a little short. Isn’t this giving Bin Laden way too much credit? I know it is a big deal to have finally caught up with this man, and believe me I feel deeply for those who were and are to this day and will be forever effected by the terrible events of 9/11 (which I do remember vividly) Bad things happened, not minor league bad, but big time bad. When things like that we go to our deepest level of feelings and we want good old fashioned Old Testament justice, an eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth, and yes, more if we can get away with it!
The question for me though was this and is this really justice? Before you get all riled up or start standing in what you may think is my corner, I don’t have an answer that satisfies me.
The best thing I saw as a response was posted several times on Facebook. It is classic Old Testament and it is fitting that it came from Rolf Jacobson a Prof at my Seminary. “”As I live,” says the Lord, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that they would turn from their ways and live.” Ezekiel 33:11a”
You see, I am a big one on second chances, I am here doing what I do, being who I am in large part do to them. Do I honestly feel that Osama Bin Laden would repent if only shown the error of his ways and then be given a chance at repentance and forgiveness. Not really, but a choice not given leaves one hanging forever. Did this man need to face justice, absolutely! Did he deserve to die, maybe. We live in a broken world and from all accounts this man was as broken as they come. Something needed to be done, and it was.
My next beef is with those who have trotted out the old MLK quote:
”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”
That quote is beautiful and it represents a truth so deep that often I forget it. But this is a quote that must be used and understood in relationship. Without that relationship, a possibility for that second chance, for that love to take root and flourish, well, you are left with pretty words and a nice sentiment.
On some levels we all like it when the bad guy gets what he has coming to him. But to celebrate this death, to think that it will change everything? Well, that I am not so sure of…
To change what is going on in the world will take love as Dr. King said, but that love is solid hard work. Love as our culture and world often understand it requires more of us than we are often willing to give, so we substitute easy answers, warm feelings, and gloss and call it love.
One man’s death did make a difference, and not just once, it has made a difference forever, because he gave all he had, and what he had was love beyond measure, the very love of God for each and every person ever created and that love was so strong that not even death could stop it. – That, I can celebrate, the rest I am going to have to chew on for a while.