Monday, May 2, 2011

Reflections on the Death of a Madman

I'm pretty sure we've all heard the news--Osama bin Laden is dead.  When I first saw the announcement last night, I was jubilant in our victory.  But that feeling waned quickly into something harder to identify, a feeling that only increased as crowds gathered to celebrate.  I was surprised to find that it was sadness.

Don't misunderstand.  The man was crazy, a murderer who had to be eliminated for the safety of thousands, possibly millions.  I don't mourn that he was killed, and if I was a family member of one of his victims, I would be dancing in the streets for a solid week.  What gets me is the sheer waste of it all.  The waste of a life that was too caught in madness to be saved.  The waste of a soul that could not be redeemed.  He was a natural leader.  What could he have done as a force for good?  For love, peace, and acceptance?  What turns a person to madness and evil so dark? 

I suppose there is no good answer to that.  But I feel that we need to be careful not to fall into a similar kind of callous insanity.  Celebrate, yes.  Innocents have likely been saved by the death of one so terrible.  But remember to celebrate with modesty, with a touch of sadness for potential lost.  Why?  Because to cheer the death of any human with a complete lack of feeling brings us terribly close to the terrorists, to the people in other countries who celebrate in the deaths of Americans without thought.

He has been removed from the world, and that is a good thing.  Now it is up to the Divine to judge and punish him, and we will never know in this life what that punishment will be.  It is left to us to promote peace here on Earth, to try to turn others from the path of mad hatred.

But we will never convince others if we become consumed by that hatred ourselves.

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