An event to certainly go down in history—just like the fall of Hitler and Hussein—now the demise of Osama bin Laden. On Sunday, May 1, 2011, President Obama stated, “Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.” For nearly ten years, Americans have been awaiting and anticipating this statement—the declaration that justice had been served. The announcement of bin Laden’s death has erupted a host of responses from closure to vengeance to a renewed sense of patriotism.
As like many Americans, I feel a sense of patriotism and completeness welling within my being, but there is also another feeling growing each day—an unsettling feeling. It’s not that I don’t believe bin Laden deserved death; it’s not that I don’t think justice needed to be served, but I fear the sense of pride and celebration surrounding the death. Yes, America did accomplish what it set out to do—to oust the world of bin Laden’s tyranny. President Obama said, “… but tonight we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history.”
However, it’s important to remember “the story of our history” never comes without cost—irreplaceable costs of life. Bin Laden’s reign has tallied up countless deaths: 3,000 on September 11, 2001 and numerous others in the nearly 10 years of trying to capture him. None of these deaths were celebrated; no, in fact, I’m fairly confident that each life lost left a hole in someone’s heart. Lives are celebrated, not death.
I do believe the Navy Seals who carried out the mission to capture bin Laden dead or alive should be commended. Perhaps, America should redirect their celebration and joy from the death of one man to the dedication of the military to ensure America’s security. However, America’s ultimate security is found in God alone. God protected those Navy Seals as they landed and commenced their mission within bin Laden’s compound. May 1, 2011 apparently was God’s appointed time for vengeance to be delivered.
Celebrate freedom. Celebrate life. Celebrate God.
Martin Luther King Jr. summarizes my thoughts by stating, “I will mourn the loss of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”