USA! USA! USA!
Such were the chants that filled the background noise, as reporters standing on the White House lawn shouted the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed. Twitter was obliterated with the news as well … complete with pastors and theologians weighing in their thoughts and reactions. Facebook statuses were posted, including mine … and “liked” many times over. A nation which has suffered multiple setbacks, negative projections, and much tragedy for a decade … suddenly was given permission to rejoice.
I want to be clear: I am on the side of justice winning. My celebration is rooted in the final chapter of an oppressive leader whom manipulated thousands, and used a religion to slaughter innocent women, children, and men. I rejoice the system he has created has now suffered a significant loss. I rejoice that Muslims have been given a glimmer of hope at the oust of this man. I’m thankful for the men and women who have suffered much pain, much loss … and have witnessed many unspeakable and haunting images and realities. Because of their sacrifices, their courage, and their commitment … a hate-filled, violence-oriented, oppressive and tyrannical system has suffered a crushing blow.
But, there was something deeply unsettling to me about celebrating death. Something eery about waving flags and singing “God bless America” in the aftermath of a terrorists death. Has God blessed America? What leads us to that conclusion? Are we blessed because we have two story homes, and full-time jobs? Because we don’t live in abject poverty … have a sustainable infrastructure … have a democratic government … have the most advanced and resourced army on the planet?
Sometimes, for Americans, it’s possible to confuse capitalism with blessings.
Anyway, I digress on the patriotism. The death of Bin Laden has me thinking … how seriously do we take the words of Jesus; the words that yearn for us to love our enemies? War is filled with injustice and tragedy regardless of the side you choose. It is a glaring, sobering reminder of the ability we possess to annihilate, destroy, and de-humanize each other. Our cause may be just, but the lines can quickly blur and atrocities can be committed on the side of good as easily as the side of bad. What if we believed Jesus’ teachings enough to live them? What if we extended grace and kindness toward those who’ve wronged and hurt us? Could that alone change the world?
What if our nations were more concerned with healing than retribution?
That’s not to say that justice isn’t important and necessary. I believe in those things. I just find myself conflicted on weeks like today. On one hand, I’m thankful for justice coming to fruition. I’m thankful that an oppressive leader no longer has influence … and can no longer manipulate and coerce people into ways of violence in the name of holy religion. And on the other hand, I’m struggling to know what it means to love my enemies … to respond to hate with love … to overcome darkness with light … and to extend grace where hostility once ruled.
Does anyone else feel conflicted at the news and reactions to Bin Laden’s death?