Monday, May 02, 2011

A Strange and Ambivalent Day

As I went to work this morning the American flag flying by the front door seemed brighter, lighter, more free. It was not just the westerly breeze. There was a sense of relief and closure that in the end, Osama bin Laden could not escape the "justice" of his own deeds.

We were just getting into bed last evening when our daughter called to tell us that there was going to be a news statement from Obama that bin Laden was dead. We got up and sat and watched. I was impressed by his fortitude and strength of conviction. He was highly presidential as he told us and the world that bin Laden had finally met his match.

An ending in so many ways to what began on 9/11/01. The mastermind of that horrific day is gone. Good riddance. No one else will suffer as a result of his actions. There was a sense of accomplishment in that. It has not been easy. He has become an icon of evil right there with Hitler and Stalin and Idi Amin. In the end good has triumphed over evil. Again.

But again the ambivalence. The celebration of someone's death- even with the sense of relief that it brought- somehow seemed out-of-focus. Mourning may have been appropriate- first in memory of those who lost their lives 10 years ago thanks to him and second for what his actions have led us to have to do. Did we have a choice? As a nation, I don't think so. Even as a pacifist I recognize that times and situations can cause us to HAVE to go against our morals and values and do things like this.

But that doesn't mean we have to like it and celebrate it as if it was a good thing. Bin Laden is gone- yes. But again our innocence has been trapped in the vortex of violence. A winner of the Nobel Peace Prize is announcing his decision to attack and kill bin Laden. No, I don't believe he had a choice. Not as President. Pacifists don't (and won't) get elected President. But I am still saddened by it, even as I am relieved that bin Laden is gone.

No, I will not celebrate. I will react with sadness over the ongoing tragedies of wars of all kinds and violence of all styles. Even justified violence is still violence and makes us less than we can truly be. I am glad for Obama and the defeat of bin Laden. But I do not rejoice at death. Not that kind of death. Even when it is necessary.

Lord have mercy on us that we do not become more violent in our reactions but learn the ways of peace as best we can. When we fail- or are forced by circumstances to react in non-peace-filled ways- forgive us our sins as we forgive the sins of others.

God, bless us in our humanness and failings as much as in our love and care. Show us a better way- and bring your peace.


Kent Douglas Trievel said...

Just a simple Amen, let it be so! is all that is necessary. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Perhaps it is our generation that is able to put this whole incident in perspective. We still respect the Office of the President and position held by this man. Regardless of party politics my United States American Flag is flying brightly on my porch. It was received in honor of my father killed in the Korean War.
Your article is well versed and I appreciate all your comments. I was in dismay yesterday and turmoil with my own adult children's reactions and comments. Ripping apart President Obama's speech and implying he was taking credit for killing Osama of all things was so out of context. I will share this article with my friends and family. Again, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Very honest. Thank you.
Jeff Coppage