Osama bin Laden’s Death: Reflections and Questions (Part 1)

Sunday night was an interesting night. My wife, mother-in-law, and newborn daughter were about to go bed when the news of something big was about to be announced by President Obama. The suspense was heightened by the fact that they couldn’t tell us what was going to be announced. The combination of this huge news coming so late in the evening with its secrecy was enough to keep us up. Then without warning, the channel we were watching decided to leak the info that it was in regards to Osama bin Laden and his death at the hand of our government.

My initial thoughts were rather mixed. I was pretty surprised by the matter. Surprised that they actually found him. Surprised that we were actually still looking for him. And even more surprised that now we seemed to have an “ending” to the search that apparently has continued since 9/11. I thought of the people and places that were greatly affected that fateful day. I remember, like most people of my generation, where I was and what I was doing. I remember the fighter jets flying over Philadelphia, where I lived during college, and wondering what was going on. Just like JFK’s assassination was a turning point for my parents’ generation, 9/11 would be a day marked for the rest of my generation’s life.

So I began to wonder if this would bring any resolve to the turmoil across the world. Would this now bring any peace to our country? To the Middle East? To the people suffering under bin Laden’s regime? Is the level of evil really lower now?

Soon thereafter celebration began to erupt across the country. Americans affected by the events of 9/11 seemingly had the justice they were after. Facebook, Twitter, and every news outlet were flooded with the news. Interestingly, it seemed as if there was a satisfaction in his death, even it was fleeting.

Personally, I felt satisfaction, curiosity, and, to be honest, worry and sorrow. For those I know who were personally affected by 9/11 I wondered if this would end a chapter in their lives. Would this be the end they were seeking? Is this end we all are seeking? Justice (who’s justice, is another question) seemed to carried out and bin Laden had now received what we all, myself included, had hoped for since 9/11.

But then I began to worry and feel sorrow in the fact that I should probably not feel and accept the satisfaction that came with his death. Is life really about vengeance? Is life really about getting back? Does death bring an end to evil? I also wondered about the call Jesus sent forth and to which I have answered. Regardless of anyone’s religious affiliation, we all must wrestle with and think through Jesus’ words of how to deal with evil and retaliation. Do they have any bearing on our world? Are they just words or do they produce anything worthwhile? Is the point just to “believe” in these words or do they produce something? Could their be a community in which peace brings reconciliation between enemies?

These are just some of my initial thoughts. Honestly, I have more questions than answers, but I really do believe that this event has the potential to be another watershed moment. How we react to Osama bin Laden’s death could be the event that pulls back the veil a bit, that points to our stances on the deeper realities of justice, violence, love, and reality.

So, how did you initially react? Did, or do, you find that how you did react conflicts with how you should react?

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