This is a day that is important in our history. I read a few blogs today that have called us to reflect on the words of Proverbs. After reading them I wrote this column for the Tribune for this Thursday.
“Do not rejoice when your enemies fall,
and do not let your heart be glad when they stumble.”
I write this at a very historic moment. American President Barack Obama has announced the killing of Osama Bin Laden. This is one of those moments where you remember exactly what you were doing when you heard ‘the news.’ To say that I was astonished would be an understatement. Osama Bin Laden had been on the FBI’s most wanted list for nearly 10 years. Since 9-11, another of those remember when days, he has been the most hated man in America. Some believed that this very rich man was living in cave in the ‘no man’s land’ between Afghanistan and Pakistan. There were others of us who felt strongly that he was living comfortably in Pakistan or somewhere friendly. It turns out that his compound was quite comfortable indeed. The pictures that have emerged this week make it difficult to believe that the government of Pakistan, an American ally, did not know where Mr. Bin Laden was. All of the debate and conspiracy theories have now begun, and questions abound. This will no doubt become a part of the political discourse in the months that remain between now and the next presidential election. There is, and will be, much chatter and dubiety about what happened and what did not happen in Pakistan on May 01, 2011; one thing is clear – Bin Laden is dead.
President Barack Obama took great care to point out that this action was taken against an enemy of not just America, but of most of the civilized world. He noted that many Muslims would also welcome Bin Laden’s demise as his violence and hatred have resulted in deaths of many Muslims as well. I was impressed that the Americans took care to treat his body in proper accordance with Muslim tradition. His body was cleaned, wrapped in a white sheet and he was given a burial at sea very shortly after his death. These are the marks of being a civilized people. President Obama’s remarks were careful and respectful of the situation. Care must be taken that our society and our culture is defined by something better what that which we fight against. That brings me to the quote cited at the beginning of this column.
As a Christian I have to say that I was disappointed by the joviality and jollification that played out on the streets across America. To me, this is counterintuitive to who we are as Christians to celebrate and engage in merrymaking at the killing of an enemy. Witnessing people drinking to this was less than reassuring for me. I think such behaviour actually solidified the prospect that those enemies of the West will indeed raise Bin Laden to martyr status. I am relieved that the world no longer needs to worry about Osama. But my relief should not become celebration or a gladdened heart as it is contrary to Christian teaching. At this time we need to be reflecting on how our world has arrived at this juncture. There is much work to be done and many fences to be mended. Proverbs chastens us to restrain from becoming what we despise most in our enemy. Love is our maxim. Love is our rule of life. Love is our witness. And, as I was reminded on Twitter today by Diana Butler-Bass echoing Martin Luther King, “it is love that will save our world, even love for our enemies.”
Kevin George is on Twitter @revykevy and he can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org