Monday, May 2, 2011

Thoughts About Bin Laden's Death

Okay, so Osama is dead!

Last night, when I heard the news, I shrugged my shoulders, and said, “I’m glad he was killed. A trial would have been ludicrous.” I felt no joy at the announcement of his death, and watching cheering Americans on TV, I felt a sense of sadness for my nation. This “victory” can only reinforce our moral and spiritual blindness as we continue to play out our fantasy of Numero Uno.

I’m a Christian, or I’ve tried to be, and I’m not sure what it means, though my evangelical sisters and brothers always seem to know what it means.

I live out of Christ; that I know, and with that, I cannot dance over the grave of an enemy.

Perhaps I’d feel differently if I had lost a loved on 9/11 or in a military conflict in the last 10 years. But I haven’t lost anyone, and I’m grateful, of course. I can’t even imagine the sorrow and hurt of a loved one lost in such circumstances.

I was struck by LA Times headlines this morning, “U.S. KILLS BIN LADEN.”


The simple spiritual reality: those who live by the sword die by the sword, and it makes no difference who delivers the first blow, and who’s right and who’s wrong and who’s good and who’s bad. The sovereign nations of the world live by the sword, and history is full of the wreckage – millions of lives lost and countless tears shed, economies devastated and stimulated, poverty and prosperity, woe and weal – but the truth remains: those who live by the sword, even righteous swords, will, one day, die by the sword, as well.

As with Israel and Palestine, the pain continues, the death of so many adds up, until nothing makes sense any longer and all that remains is hatred.

Will Bin Laden’s death make any difference?

I doubt it.

The dogs of war have been unleashed, and there’s no calling them back. We’ll never again see anything like WW2, but what we’ll have is a world in constant turmoil, fed by the growing disparity of the nations, with age-old border disputes continuing, along with the struggle to control dwindling reserves of oil and fresh water.

The rising stars of China and India are changing the playing field in ways that no American can envision; we were the top dog, so to speak, since the Spanish-American War. And while still militarily strong, our economy is precarious, our national infrastructure is in need of massive repair, our public systems of transportation and health care are Medieval, and our sense of identity is in flux (and that’s always a dangerous time for a nation).

There is no doubt that Al Qaeda has been derailed, if not permanently as a movement, at least for a considerable time. But as long as the West continues to manipulate its own interests to the disadvantage of the Muslim nations, especially those that have oil, Muslim extremists will continue to see the West as demonic. And Christian extremists in the West will continue to foment ill-will toward Islam.

Last night, I asked, “Who will we hate now?”

Nations love to have an embodiment of the enemy, a poster-child, if you will, of righteous indignation.

In WW1, it was the Kaiser … Hitler and Tojo in WW2 …  Mao n Korea, Ho Chi Min in Vietnam, Noriega in Panama, the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran, the Axis of Evil, Saddam Hussein and then Bin Laden. Did I miss anyone?

The world will lumber on as it always does. There will be war and rumors of war and earthquakes and famine and fire and pestilence and storms. People will love and people will hate, nations will rise and nations will fall. History will always be written by the winners; prophetic voices will cry out and identify the hubris that infects the human story. Kindly voices will speak; Doctors without Borders will continue to heal. Women and men of good cheer and good faith will build bridges and take down fences.

And in the midst and mist of it all, Jesus says, “Be not alarmed … love one another … and love the enemy, too.” 


  1. Wow...such food for thought! Well thought, well-said...leaves me pondering and a little sad.

  2. It all kinda reminds me of the hunts for Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Sam Bass, Bonnie and Clyde, John Dillinger, Che Guevara...

    The world has gotten smaller, technology has gotten more sophisticated, the rhetoric more pointed, the cost much higher, but boy, will still love a good manhunt.