Kudos to America’s intelligence services and armed forces for their successful operation in finding and eliminating Osama bin Laden. Their pain-staking devotion to duty means we no longer have to worry about that Bogeyman haunting us again.
However, it’s hard for me to rejoice in the death of this perpetrator of 9/11. Television coverage showed jubilant Americans celebrating outside the White House and in Times Square It doesn’t seem right watching people celebrate his death as if America had won the Final Four…
…or the Super Bowl…
…or the World Series…
…or even the World Cup.
Were they celebrating a victory or releasing pent up hatred for a man who is responsible for the deaths of more than 3,000 Americans almost a decade ago?
Am I glad bin Laden is gone? Absolutely!
Still, it doesn’t seem right to rejoice over a person’s death. There’s no opportunity to learn why he chose to become hateful or a chance for redemption. Who can say with certainty when someone’s life changes?
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a strong proponent of non-violence. He gave a sermon in 1957 titled “Loving Your Enemies.” In it, the reverend has a few pointed things to say about hate and hat it does to people.
“I think the first reason that we should love our enemies, and I think this was at the very center of Jesus’ thinking, is this: that hate for hate only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe. If I hit you and you hit me and I hit you back and you hit me back and go on, you see, that goes on ad infinitum. It just never ends. Somewhere somebody must have a little sense, and that’s the strong person. The strong person is the person who can cut off the chain of hate, the chain of evil. And that is the tragedy of hate, that it doesn’t cut it off. It only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe. Somebody must have religion enough and morality enough to cut it off and inject within the very structure of the universe that strong and powerful element of love.
“There’s another reason why you should love your enemies, and that is because hate distorts the personality of the hater. We usually think of what hate does for the individual hated or the individuals hated or the groups hated. But it is even more tragic, it is even more ruinous and injurious to the individual who hates. You just begin hating somebody, and you will begin to do irrational things. You can’t see straight when you hate. You can’t walk straight when you hate. You can’t stand upright. Your vision is distorted. There is nothing more tragic than to see an individual whose heart is filled with hate. He comes to the point that he becomes a pathological case. For the person who hates, you can stand up and see a person and that person can be beautiful, and you will call them ugly. For the person who hates, the beautiful becomes ugly and the ugly becomes beautiful. For the person who hates, the good becomes bad and the bad becomes good. For the person who hates, the true becomes false and the false becomes true. That’s what hate does. You can’t see right. The symbol of objectivity is lost. Hate destroys the very structure of the personality of the hater.”
Yes, bin Laden was hateful. Isn’t it also hateful to rejoice over someone’s death? After all, one is rejoicing because of hatred for the deceased. Shouldn’t we mourn the loss of the deceased’s God-given innocence?
I believe all life starts out innocent and with promise. Who can look at any newborn and see a bin Laden, or an Adolph Hitler or a Pol Pot? A person’s life experiences changes his or her innocence. Hatred comes into the heart and transforms it to hate. If I celebrate a death, am I allowing hatred to come into my heart and transform me? Yes, I believe so.
Hatred is the root cause for all the world’s ills. Some say it’s religion. I disagree. It’s hatred. If religion causes harm, it’s because hatred is the root cause. Hatred changes everything it encounters. Hatred fuels the tension between Christians and Muslims, and between the West and the Islamic world. I’m not saying everyChristian, Westerner or Muslim has hatred for the other but enough do to cause the tension.
Hatred is the cause of anti-Semitism. It was the cause of The Troubles in Northern Ireland between Catholics and Protestants. It was the cause of the genocides in Rwanda, Bosnia, Cambodia…ad infinitum. When does it end? Who will be the stronger person to end it?
America is strong enough. We can stop the cycle of hatred and take a step toward changing the world when we say enough is enough. If we don’t the cycle violence will continue. Our enemies will celebrate our deaths, and we will celebrate theirs…and so on…and so on. …