Am I pleased that the man is dead? I am pleased that he no longer poses a threat to innocent people everywhere. But I do not rejoice in death. I rejoice in life. Sometimes, however, it is necessary for certain people to die in order for other people to live. By live I mean live without being in constant fear of damage to their life or freedom. Osama bin Laden lived by the sword and now he has died by the sword. But is this justice?
I am offended by images on television of people gathered in the streets celebrating murder. Whether it is in Somalia, Afghanistan, or New York City. Those who go to war must be prepared to meet a warrior's end. Call it terrorism or a police action or an operation, but it is still war. When opposing forces meet with guns, it is war. We see war all over the world. Many people die by war as active participants, and many die as innocent bystanders. If those who die are fighting on the side of family, freedom, and justice then I mourn their death. If they are fighting against family, freedom, and justice then I feel less grief because of some sense of human justice. But is this truly justice?
All people are children of God. We are all born as helpless babies dependent upon the care of parents. I believe this is the first inalienable right of all human life: the right to be cared for by two parents, mother and father. Too many (one is too many) children are deprived of this right. I mourn for these most of all. The point is that life is sacred and all people begin in the same fashion. Throughout our lives we shape ourselves to match what we have been taught and in accordance with what we believe we want to achieve or to become some day.
We are free to choose how we will respond to the given choices we are faced with. There is always opposition, and we are always free to choose between the various sides opposed. To some extent we are able to choose the options we will face in the future by making choices in the present, but sometimes our choices are determined by the choices of others. Unfortunately, many people use their ability to choose to inflict damage on other people. But is there a point when their choices stop them from being human like everyone else?
Osama bin Laden was evil. Anyone who seeks the death and destruction of another person or group is evil. That is to say, they are following an evil influence. I might add that those who celebrate the death of other people in the streets, even if the dead are their enemies (perhaps especially in this case), are also following an evil influence. Please do not be offended, I am simply working through a thought process, and at any rate, these are only my personal beliefs.
In my mind I keep seeing two scenes flash back and forth. First, the scene of a Navy sailor kissing a woman in Times Square, celebrating - if I remember correctly - the victory in Europe during World War II. The second scene is of college-aged Americans rambunctiously gathering outside the White House following the announcement of the death of bin Laden. I don't feel the same reaction to each scene. Perhaps some of that difference is tradition. Are these two causes of celebration equal?
Where is justice best served? In courtrooms, on battlefields, or in Heaven (used as a collective term to denote the place where God lives)? Thinking back to how we all start out as innocent babies and then turn into various sorts of adults, I wonder if any of us are capable of issuing pure justice. Our varied experiences and the paths we choose to follow don't give us equal perception or standards of truth. This is one of the logical reasons I see that support the belief of one God and one truth. Anything generated from man is imperfect and subject to bias. Only God can bestow an objective truth and justice system upon mankind (in my subjective opinion). Street celebrations over the death of a person, even a terrorist, gives me pause to wonder if justice is being served.
Supposing that we can establish a reasonable point of justice, where is the line between justice and vengeance or revenge? How does the death of a murderer fix the death of the victim who he murdered? An eye for an eye? The Law of Moses was fulfilled by Jesus Christ, who then issued a higher law. Love one another. Do good to them who curse you. Love your enemies. Forgive. If they offend you again, forgive again, until seventy times seven. I despise acts of terrorism. I am saddened by the perpetrators of it, but I also feel sadness for the loss of their lives. I worry about us if we find pleasure in the demise of someone else. Why must one person suffer in order for another to feel better?
I hadn't intended that last question to be profound, but to me it is. I don't know the answer to why, but I do know that One did suffer so that others could feel better. Jesus Christ did. And because he did, no matter what the suffering we experience, we can feel better if we turn to Him. But this differs from what my original intent was with that question. I was questioning how a person victimized by bin Laden would need bin Laden to die in order for them to feel better. I think the answer is bad pride.
When we do bad things there are two aspects, intent and act. This is prevalent in the criminal justice system as well as in religion. A person must understand a law and have the desire to go against it in order to have criminal intent. This is the same within religion. A person must have a knowledge of the commandments (the law) and then desire to do an act contrary to that understanding in order to commit sin. In either case, it could be said that the root problem is disregard for the law. If you boil that down, it is disregard for the law giver. Terrorists have a disregard for humanity. Criminals have a disregard for legislated laws (or at least a desire to get something that overwhelms their regard for legislated laws, but then we are getting into theory). Sinners have a disregard for God's law.
In regards to legislated laws, I think there are degrees of crime. The act is important to factor into the process of justice. Speeding tickets are not the same as drug possession and neither of these is the same as murder. However, when you are talking about sin, the root of the problem, which is fighting against God, is possibly the same level of seriousness in most instances of sin, if not all. What I am trying to say is that the attitude with which we do things is the key factor. Yes, murder is worse than stealing candy, but in the extreme, both show a disregard for laws, either man made or God given.
What does this have to do with celebrating the death of bin Laden? Perhaps nothing. Sometimes one thought leads to another without any clear connection. Maybe none of this is relevant or substantial. Or perhaps the attitude with which we take to the streets chanting and celebrating the death of a person, no matter how heinous his behavior had been, is the same attitude that leads people to reject God's love and guidance. Two final thoughts: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and check yourself before you wreck yourself.
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