On the radio today I heard a family member of a 9/11 victim say the news of bin Laden’s death does not bring rejoicing but, instead, relief. I don’t think I can capture my feelings any better. I have struggled a great deal with how I feel, and how I should feel about this news. On one hand I think it is important for America, for the world, and especially for the families of those killed on 9/11 that we now live in a bin Laden-free world. On the other hand, I am profoundly uncomfortable with the news that pockets of Americans have gathered at the White House, Ground Zero, Times Square, and all over the country to celebrate his death. What is the difference between these two videos?
The difference between these two videos is only who’s dead, and who’s happy about it. That’s the circle of violence for you, my friends. And that explains my discomfort over the celebrations.
I’m not a pacifist. I believe Jesus’ words about turning the other cheek are not taken seriously enough by Christians, but I also believe that we live in a broken, fallen world where even the best things are tainted by evil. I think there are times when we will find ourselves drawn into armed conflict, times when we will have to kill other human beings in the struggle for liberty. And I think those times should be surrounded not by celebration but by solemnness. Watch the videos above again. Wouldn’t it be fitting, wouldn’t it separate America from other countries if, in response to bin Laden’s death, there had been people standing quietly at gatherings holding signs saying, “Families and victims of 9/11 — we honor you.” “Soldiers — thank you.” Wouldn’t this be a great time to avoid sloganeering and feel-good, “these colors don’t run” sentimentality? Can’t we acknowledge that perhaps we have done a necessary thing (or perhaps not — it is, after all, a matter of opinion), but that we at least take all human life seriously enough to not take joy in a single death?
Can’t we, as a country that is still a leader in the world, lead by deciding to be less blood-thirsty than those who have wounded us, even we when we have decided that the best response is to hunt down and kill those responsible? When I heard that al Qaeda and other terror groups are likely to respond with more attacks, all I could think of was, “And round and round we go.” The terrorists, of course, called 9/11 a “response” to American policy in the middle east. The killing of bin Laden was our “response” to their response. And now they will call their further bloody actions a “response” to our response’s response. It’s insane.
My friend and fellow blogger Jeff Vannest said it well in one of his posts:
As Americans we seem completely baffled by Islamic totalitarianism. But the straight line between their beliefs and actions is no more inscrutable than our own. The Islamic jihadi begins with unwavering conviction in the Koran and ends with the deaths of his enemies through suicide bombs and campaigns of terror. The neoconservative Republican [Dave’s note — use whatever label you’re comfortable with here — in this case it’s obviously not about Republicans and Democrats, but about a certain mentality that is often shared by both] begins with an unwavering conviction in the U.S. Constitution and the Bible and ends with the deaths of his enemies through aerial bombs and campaigns of democratization. Are these parallels still unclear to anyone? Source: JeffVannest.com
Yes, Jeff, I’m afraid they are. To many all that matters is that bin Laden is dead and so now it’s our turn to celebrate and their turn to suffer. Somehow we’re going to have to get beyond this if we’re ever to have lasting peace in our world. For now, the wheel goes ’round.