What the Death of Bin Laden Really Tells Us About Americans
8 May, 2011
Jubilation. Crowds gathered in the street, singing, dancing, and chanting. National pride was at a level not seen in many years. An onlooker could hear chanting and praising, making it easy to see that something extraordinary had just been accomplished. The leader of the raid stood at a podium and announced “justice”.
Unity. Everyone held hands, cheered, laughed and cried together. Members of the same nation, which were separated by their differences only hours before, now came together with an Earth moving event having been accomplished, ready to build a bridge, even if only for one night, between their differences.
Pride. Members of the crowd displayed it openly with the cameras capturing the event; there were words, signs, dances, even kisses. One of the nation’s brightest moments in a long line of mistakes. This event was the only resounding success of the nation that had been seen by most of the rising generation.
Excitement. It was an immeasurable victory. The moral of the enemy would be devastated. Could this mean the defeat of the great “evil”? Is there any possibility in which they can rise from this defeat and become a threat to our lifestyle again? At least for one day, the answers to those questions do not matter. The atmosphere is more joyous than a wedding, happier than a child birth, more victorious than a Super Bowl.
This scene was front page news, top headline, cover story for our nation. The irony in the death of the mass murderer Osama Bin Laden is that this identical scene was played out 10 years earlier, on the other side of the globe, in third-world nations, on the day two Boeing 747 aircrafts flew directly into the World Trade Center towers. Yes, Americans were reveling in death just as much as terrorists. The death of Bin Laden meant to us exactly what the atrocious 9/11 attacks meant to the terrorists. Maybe we have more similarities than we think.
As I sat glued to the news stations every second I could be for the next few days, I saw the same reaction from all walks of Americans. “Now we have justice,” Americans were saying. “This most evil man will burn in Hell forever, just as he deserves,” were the comments of so many others “Where is your Allah now?” I even heard one man mock. We were all passing sentence, judging Bin Laden as though we were the Supreme Deity, as though it was up to us and our perspective as to whether a man was damned or exalted. Surely Bin Laden deserved to die, and I am relieved to have a world without him. American people widely feel a superiority above other nations; and rightfully so. Having lived for some time overseas I can personally testify that this is the greatest nation on the planet, period. We are, as past presidents have put it, the city on a hill referred to in the Bible, shining light to the rest of the world. That is what made me think: what kind of a light did our reaction to the death of Bin Laden shine? We pronounced justice had been served, throwing the term “justice” around as loosely as a teenager uses “awesome.” Justice refers to something higher, something more permanent. Do we as Americans really feel we have the superiority and divinity to declare justice for the 2,792 people who laid buried in the smoldering rubble of the Twin Towers? Justice is more restoring, more compensating, more liberating; did the death of the world’s most wanted man bring back one single life which had been lost? Did the death of the mastermind of murder fill the emotional void left by a mommy or daddy, who would never come home from work to raise their child? Did the death of public enemy number one bring a single soldier back from the grave to attend the family reunion? As superior as many in the United States feel they are, and we are to some extent, we cannot bring justice for an act of crime the scale of 9/11. Grand theft auto, political corruption, arson, and maybe even the homicide of one person; these we have the ability to bring justice for. The level of damage done when those Towers fell cannot be completely repaired in this life. It concerns me that there are enough Americans out there who hold this view for some to get on the news and boldly proclaim justice. We did not repair or restore anything. What the raid orchestrated by President Obama did give us was retribution: much deserved and much earned retribution. For that I congratulate the President and all the Military involved in the raid which freed the world from the most murderous villain since Adolf Hitler.
The murdering taken place by Al Qaeda was wrong, that is clear to everyone in the world not affiliated with a terrorist organization. The question is why do those in a terrorist organization feel it is right? After the death of Bin Laden, many American citizens were happy to be rid of the “evil” man who killed thousands of innocent lives. Again, we as Americans felt so superior that what we did not understand we quickly condemned as evil. Many horrific things have been done in the name of religion; the crusades, the inquisitions, and for us as Americans, even slavery—possibly our darkest hour—all were committed in the name of, or justified by some Holy Being. Does slavery make us evil? No. Slavery was most certainly an atrocious system, but that did not define our nation as evil; just the same way the crusades or inquisitions did not define European nations as evil. If Osama Bin Laden truly felt in his heart that he was performing the will of an Almighty God, then who are we to say whether or not his actions were evil? For all we know, his intentions may have been good. Think of it this way: In his second inaugural address, President Bush stood at a podium and declared with almost perfect clarity that we as a nation would seek out and end tyranny and oppression wherever in the world we found it. This, Bush admitted, would often require the force of military action. Military action means the loss of lives, tragically, often civilian collateral damage. So America declared we would make the world a Utopia, by force if necessary. Is that not the exact stated mission of terrorists? Do they not state that the world will be filled with Islam, and peace will follow after? If human beings will not join Islam they must be killed, and dealt with by God. How can we rightly call their cause evil, and our cause good? In the Old Testament God justified the slaughter of every living Amalekite creature; men, women, children, even all the beasts; not one was to live. When some of the best animals were saved for sacrifice, Samuel their prophet was enraged. God was more pleased with obedience than sacrifice. My point is that killing has been, and often is justified under the blanket of God’s will. If the terrorists really believed they were commanded by God to kill, I do not see how we can call that evil. We most certainly can call it wrong, yes. It was wrong, horrifically wrong indeed; but I am hesitant to label it as evil. We must also consider the differences in culture. To many Muslims and people of the Middle East, killing is not wrong, it is a part of life. It is often a necessity to safety or another basic survival need. Adultery on the other hand is a horrible sin. One guilty of adultery may very well be sentenced to death in order to keep safety in a village. They are taught from the time they begin walking what a sin adultery is. Adversely, we grow up here in a western, modernized democracy. We learn from the time we start walking that killing is wrong. To commit murder is the worst of sins. However; most, or at least many high school students in the United States would have to find a dictionary in order to know what adultery even means. “Evil” is relative to perspective. We can see something as evil which terrorists see as righteous; who are we to judge? Do we as Americans really have the superiority and divinity to declare something as evil? By those same guidelines, would not the proclamation to end tyranny and bring freedom to all also be evil? Now, if the mission of terrorists is not their real purpose; if there is an inner circle which Bin Laden was a part of that devised the reasoning for suicide bombers and genocide to gain personal power, to make the world fear them, or to settle a score with Christians, then yes, they are evil. Evil in the very definition. Evil to the core. Evil at its very worst. But how can we judge a man’s heart? Judgment, justice, and condemnation are not up to Americans to decide. This is why I solemly agree with labeling the acts committed by these men as wrong in the highest degree. This is also why I cannot readily proclaim these men as evil, and sentence them to eternal fire and brimstone. I find it sad that when one prominent American, Rashard Mendenhall—a running back for the Pittsburg Steelers—voiced these opinions and observations the reaction was again overwhelmingly, highly judgmental. Mendenhall only made the observation that it seemed inconsistent we would be as elated over causing death as the terrorists are. So judgmental was the reaction to this acute and harmless observation that Mr. Mendenhall was later forced to apologize; possibly by his team and organization, but most definitely by the pressure and reaction of our nation. Mr. Mendenhall was even dropped by his sponsor, Champion athletic apparel, for fear that his observation would cause negative backlash. What kind of a light does that shine?
Surely all who stand for the Red, White, and Blue do not feel this way; but is concerns me that a large percentage feel they are superior enough to become this judgmental, this high, this holy. Many even react this way in the name of Christianity and righteousness. That, to me at least, seems very misguided. Is not the very essence of Christianity peace, love, charity, and forgiveness? Are we so without sin the we would cast the first stone? By my understanding of Christianity is seems we would be required to forgive Bin Laden for what he has done, and leave judgment up to God. We gave ourselves retribution, and rightfully so; but now that he is dead, it is time we forgive; though never forget those lost in this battle, and let Divine Justice do the rest. If we as Christians, which I believe many in our nation still are, choose not forgive Bin Laden, then we are in essence making this statement: “It does not matter one bit what God thinks. It does not matter one bit that Jesus of Nazareth paid for the sins of all, and in so doing, gained the perfect understanding of all wherewith to be the supreme judge. My limited knowledge stretches higher and vaster than does God’s knowledge. I know what is good and bad, righteous and evil, better than God does. For this reason I am a better judge, and my judgment is more just than that of God. Therefore, I condemn Bin Laden as evil, and sentence him to burn in hell. Sorry Jesus, your input is not needed here. I love you, but do not care what you think.” The last time somebody had this attitude, that I can recall, they were told that the harlots and publicans would enter into the Kingdom of God before they would. Surely Americans have not allowed a feeling of superiority to cause us to fall to a degenerate state such this. If we feel so superior, so much so that we feel we can bring justice, then why are we not superior enough to forgive? What kind of light does that shine?
I also must wonder how many American people elated at the death of Bin Laden oppose capital punishment. Whether I am against the death penalty, or whether I am for it is not the point. The point is that many who were dancing around and chanting in the streets at the death of a terrorist may have been inconsistent enough to oppose the death of an American citizen, even if that citizen is a serial killer. I too felt national pride at the announcement of the death of Bin Laden, but I would not overlook my own personal beliefs to be delighted by it. What kind of a light does that shine?
Americans often have a feeling of superiority, which I believe is well justified. Surely this superiority has not degenerate us to a state of unholy judgment and condemnation. I have too much faith in our nation to believe we have truly fallen this far. This is the greatest land and the greatest people the pages of history have ever known. What the death of Osama Bin Laden really tells us about Americans is that we, as the city on the hill, must return to shining the right kind of light for the rest of the world to see. I am relieved at his death too, but that does not mean I am going to celebrate it. I am relieved at his death too, but that does not mean I am going to condemn him. I am relieved at his death too, but that does not automatically make me a better person than he was.
Posted on August 27, 2011, in Patriotslog Articles, Religion and tagged 9/11, Afghanistan, America, bin laden, Death, Iraq, justice, osama, retribution, terrorists, twin towers, war. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.