Quoting our kid

In Jerusalem in 30 AD the crowd cheered when he was declared dead. There was relief among the leaders that he was gone – he was no longer a threat to their power or to the nation. Or was that in 2011 in Washington and New York?

It has been an interesting 2 days listening to the endless news reports, and many people’s personal commentary on the assassination of Osama Bin Laden.

There have been other voices as well. A friend and colleague of mine, the Rev. Debs Duguid-May observed: “I fail to see how anyone who rejoices in death can also rejoice in the presence of a life giving god!  Rejoicing in any death says much about that individual or culture.”

And slain peacemaker, leader and Christian activitist Martin Luther King Jr wrote “I mourn the loss of thousands 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.”.

One highlight for me has been reading our son, Christopher’s, comments on Facebook. While not an impartial observer I see in his comments thought, insight and a willingness to risk going against peer sentiments.  He wrote “While I’m pleased that Osama Bin Laden’s reign of terror in the middle east is over, I am uneasy with the absolute euphoric celebrations shown around the country and how this country is viewed. I also fear terrorist repercussions. Call it the bleeding heart liberal in me but I’m more disturbed that Bin Laden was so evil that this was the action that was necessary.”

That’s fine, to quote all these folk, you may think but what about you – where do you stand? My pragmatic side realizes that there are times when individuals and nations must do things that are not a good choice – but may the best choice you have. War is never a good choice. But in World War 2 it was a better choice than allowing the Germany and Japan to take over and enslave the world. In that sense I believe the US did what it had to do to minimize the threat and to provide a symbolic action as a warning. But killing Bin Laden did not accomplish much. It did not in the short term make us safer (there have already been threats of retaliation). It did not undo the many deaths for which he was responsible nor dull or take away the grief of those who mourn them. And it won’t really bring closure or new life to anyone. To quote Chris again: “… Half the time I think people view this as some kind of “win” for America. Hate to break it to everyone but nobody wins in this scenario. No one brings back the victims of 911, no one can help heal the suffering of innocents in the middle east. To keep fostering this If I kill these people it is some righteous revenge and will make right the last dirty deed is an attitude I refuse to prescribe to.”

I wish another course had been possible such as arresting him and bringing him before the international court. And I fear that the image of Americans cheering this death gives more fuel for the fire of anti-American sentiment throughout the world.

Whether you agree with them or not it is good to have children willing to think about issues of consequence and express their conscience and values in a public forum.


About don

The Rev Don Hill is an Episcopal priest, rail fan and writer. He and his wife the Rev. Dr. Nancy Woodworth-Hill are currently Co-Pastors of St Paul's Episcopal Church, Jeffersonville IN, in the Diocese of Indianapolis. They also work as parish consultants in Appreciative Inquiry, strategic planning and spirituality development for parishes and vestries.
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