I’ve spent the day reading a lot of news about the death of a man who has stood as a symbol for a religious faction (albeit a small one) that seeks to wipe out Christians and Jews across the world.
Last night, my good friend called us to tell us to flip on the TV because the President was about to make an announcement about Osama bin Laden. We sat down in front of a laptop and waited for the live feed. When President Obama made the announcement, we just sort of absorbed it. And then the cheering sections started. First there was the live feed of the cheering crowds in front of the White House. Then it was the footage of thousands of people pouring into the streets of New York City and rushing to Ground Zero. And then today, I got an email advertising a buy one, get one free special at a local restaurant in honor of a successful military action that took out bin Laden. And just…what? People were celebrating and cheering the killing of a life. Have you ever watched coverage of crowds waiting for the death penalty to be carried out upon a criminal? That’s what it felt like to me. While I believe bin Laden’s death was just, the celebrations changed the tone. I am not a pacifist. I do believe we must abhor what is evil and fight against it. It’s our only option. To passively sit by and allow tyranny to take over is to condone it. But, I really do believe that what ought to have been a moment of recognition of the end of a worldwide threat to peace became jubilant celebration of a blood lust satisfied. Here was a man who was lost forever, with no more chances to know repentance. And our country was celebrating.
Maybe it’s because I’ve never known anyone who was affected firsthand by the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center or any other horrific al Queda attacks carried out in the name of Allah. Maybe it’s because I’m not very patriotic. I don’t know. The whole thing just makes me feel unsettled. We’re thankful this man is gone, thankful his threat is behind us. Someone else will surely step up to fill his shoes, but for now, the symbol of this violent movement is gone.
It does create a renewed sense of patriotism in many American citizens. There’s a collective sense of unity. But, at the end of the day, I have to question what we’re celebrating and mourn what has united us.
Really, I’m just uncomfortable plastering myself with an American flag. Those stripes don’t heal. Jesus’ stripes do. And what makes me sad is that I don’t think I believed it possible that God could change bin Laden’s heart. But, the reality is…Our God IS that big. If God can raise his son, if he can change the heart of Saul into a missionary for the Gospel, he could have changed bin Laden’s heart. Granted, he could have done that with or without our prayer, and to my knowledge, he didn’t. I can only assume bin Laden’s fate was the same as Pharoah’s (Roman’s 9:17), but I’m not God. Only He knows bin Laden’s fate. Only He can show mercy. But, I still wish I had prayed for our enemy while I still had a chance. I didn’t. And I’m sorry. God forgive me.