Monday, May 02, 2011

The demise of an enemy.

This morning I got up, fired up the ole puter and got the news from Facebook that Osama bin Laden had gone to meet his maker. My immediate response was surprise, and then curiosity to know where he had been hiding and how the circumstances around his death. And then I smiled. It was over. The mastermind behind 9/11, the man who cheered and celebrated the death of 3000 innocent people, now knew that experience of death personally. It felt as if everything had come full circle, a fitting end, justice was served.

Then I started reading e-mails, getting breakfast, taking Gabe to his drum lesson... the normal routine stuff. But I guess other people were more exuberant in their celebrations. My niece tells me that on her campus their was a party going on with fireworks, drinking and jumping in the lake. Once she told me that, I wondered how often those types of displays were going on in the world. Didn't see much in my downtown Ohio town, but I didn't go by the university. Were other people enthusiastically celebrating the death of our enemy? and if so was that appropriate? or in bad taste and insensitive?


Back in high school I had two classmates that were unusually cruel in their treatment of people outside of their social clique. They frequently taunted me and my sister and other friends by calling us names and jeering at all the unique physical characteristics that come with the wonderful jr. high years. What made it worse was that we had to share a bus and a bus stop with them and sometimes we had to spend a long time after school waiting for our particular bus to show up. It was torture. And the verbal and psychological abuse didn't stop with us either. I remember the one young man screaming at his father and then turning to give him the finger one morning before he entered the bus.

On New Years Eve of our Junior Year of high school, right after we received our class rings, these two boys were killed in a freak car accident. I have to admit that when I first heard the news my reaction was one of relief. My tormentors were no more. But my mother felt that we should still go and pay our respects at the funeral home, as she had developed an acquaintanceship with the parents. I remember kneeling before the coffin of one of the boys, in his suit and tie with his brand new class ring and wondering how that judgment thing was working out for him? And I also remember having the thought that if someone out of class had to go through an untimely death, these two were the perfect candidates and their death greatly improved my day-to-day existence.

Yet at the same time I remember the grief and sadness in the eyes of their friends, their siblings and especially their parents. Even the father who had been the victim of his son's public display of profanity was genuinely in pain over the death of his son. One of the mothers asked me if I was one of the classmates. I told her that I was and that I was sorry for her loss. That's all I said.

And I sort of have that same sensation today. Yes, I'm glad that the bin Laden era is over. I am elated that he will no longer be able to hurt anyone else. But I am somewhat sad that it had to end that way; sorry that he never had the chance to see his error and feel the sorrow and horror for what he had done on his own. He was someone's son, brother, husband, father, and out of respect for them I can appreciate their grief.

My other niece linked to this quote. I think it says it well:

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.

[Martin Luther King, Jr.]




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