Right now, my heart is broken. On the news, I see Americans cheering the unnatural death of someone whom God loves. I see my nation glorying in our own vengeance, even though God says: “Vengeance is mine” Christians believe that all humanity was created in God’s image including the worst of us. We believe that Christ came to offer salvation to even the worst of sinners. Christians believe that God loves even a murderer such as Osama bin Laden.
The celebrations look familiar. I have been frightened before by news broadcasts where hateful Iranians burn our flag, yell hate, or celebrate our mourning. Our celebration of death matches the hatred that we condemned elsewhere. When humanity glories in the iconoclasm that is killing, we do not honor God. We also do not end violence, but we add to violence. Because of my faith — I am offended.
I know that some will point out that Osama killed and deserves to die — perhaps this is true, but God can redeem even the worst of sinners. God values even the life of murderers. Even Saul the persecutor who sought to kill all Christians met Jesus on the road to Damascus. After meeting Jesus, Paul later became a chief spokesman for Christianity. Who are we to make this judgment for God?
Stepping away from my faith (though faith informs my politics), I would like to observe that vengeance was done but justice was not. If this was an execution, it was an execution without a trial. This sort of justice is something that may appear to another to be a murder. Any collateral damage which happened invites similar “justice” from the families of the dead. I for one will not be sleeping easier.
Even worse, Osama Bin Laden was dying. I know that President Obama promised that we would get him, dead or alive. With his failing kidneys, illness would likely end his life so that we could never “get him.” We chose the political expediency of vengeance, even though at this point Osama was likely more a symbol than a leader. Tomorrow that symbol will still be there. Because we chose the route of taking vengeance against a dying man, he will remain a martyr to his cause. Just as we show the hated on Al Jazeera to inspire fear in America, now America’s enemies have an equivalent image from CNN to show on their media.
Those who thought the mission was to get Osama Bin Laden will find they have a new mission. A system of violence and hatred is not taken down by making a dying man into a martyr — Al Qaeda will continue, another will officially take Osama’s old role. Osama will continue as a symbol, and those who use fear to encourage hate will have the image of American hatred to inspire that fear.
Today I am disappointed with the short sightedness of humanity and with our sinfulness. We glory that we were able to kill one made in God’s image. We treat hate as a virtue, and discourage the twinge of conscience that says this is wrong. May 1, 2011 will be a dark day in my memory. I may not mourn the death of an evil man, however I mourn that my nation glories in its own evil. I mourn that we have brought ourselves down to participating in the evil that we denounce.
How can we show love instead of wrath?
Can we, with God’s help forgive?
Can we, as Christ commanded: “Pray for our enemies?”
How can we wage peace when the world calls for violence?