Sometimes I don’t know how to say what I want to say. Luckily, I have wise and eloquent friends who can do it better than I ever could. When I saw this on a friend’s Facebook, I asked him if I could share it. Thankfully, he said yes. It’s quite long, but really worth reading. I think it says many things we don’t consider.
There is no better place to start than at the beginning: Osama bin Laden is dead. A constant threat to the security and welfare of this nation, and the world, for the past two decades was found and killed by American forces yesterday in Pakistan.
I’m still somewhat in shock. I’m a member of the generation who was raised, and is still being raised, under the specter of 9-11. I’ve grown up knowing that he was the bad guy—the villain who had caused the deaths of thousands of Americans. Here was the face of Evil.
Yet no man, save perhaps Hitler, is that simple. There is no justifying his actions. There is never a time to kill innocents. Had he understood the Qur’an, he would have known this, for it says plain and simple that no Muslim is to kill an innocent man or an innocent woman or an innocent child. That’s not Islam. Somehow in his head, bin Laden was able to define “innocent” differently than I. One can only imagine that to him, by our complacency in the actions of the United States and Israel abroad, we were all responsible at home. He was not a stupid man by any stretch of the imagination—he was one who misunderstood the messages of the prophet Muhammad…or perhaps he chose to ignore them for his political beliefs, but he was not stupid. He was immoral. All of this adds to the fact that it is one thing to disagree on matters of policy—yet it is another to demonize and kill one who disagrees, or worse: one who has done nothing at all. His political beliefs are still up for argument (Let us not be deceived by anyone: Al-Qaeda is a political organization, using terrorism to effect its goals. Its aims are not Muslim in origin: they are extremist and close-minded.), and I admit that he made several good points in his lifetime. Yet murder is murder.
Where does bin Laden’s death leave us? Is the world safer? Should we celebrate? First, I want to mention how asinine and flippant I find it to make pathetic jokes about his finally losing at hide and go seek. There’s a time and place for humor: this is neither the time nor the place. We are speaking of one of the men responsible for 9-11 (I would remind anyone that it took dozens, if not hundreds, of men to plan and execute 9-11…), directly causing the deaths of three thousand nameless Americans, indirectly leading to a plethora more in the years since. Yet of these men to blame, he was the mastermind: he was the face to which we as a people ascribed the horrors and the pains and the losses and the sufferings with which we have had to struggle for a decade come this September. Nearly ten years we hunted for this man, nearly ten years we sought, using the vast resources of the mightiest nation to ever exist on the face of this planet, after a single soul. And now he’s dead; now that soul is gone. In short, this was never a game. Don’t try to make it that cheap. Life’s worth is not yet that discounted.
Too many celebrate his death as though yesterday had been a holiday. It was not! Now is a time to reflect upon the lost soul of a fellow human being, one who became so clouded and rotten that he identified the weak as his adversary; the darkness for his friend. Bin Laden was many things, yet above all he was a child of God, one who lost himself. And when we choose to celebrate, when we choose to make joy out of his death, we commit the same sin as he: we devalue the worth of a human life, one of the most precious things this universe contains.
How many have died because of him? That is a countless number, a chorus of angels singing in Heaven above far greater than those who lay with the ashes of the World Trade Center or the Pentagon. Myriad lives have been lost: terrorist attacks across the world have precipitated from his blueprints, not to mention the deaths which have taken place due to the Afghanistan War. Thus, is the fear over? Have we won the War on Terror? May we once again sleep easy, free at last from the night terrors which have long plagued us?
The truth is, itself, a frightening thing: there is no end to the War on Terror. This is a conflict that can never be won. We stand opposed to Evil, in all its horrendous decadence. This is not to demonize our enemies: this is to define the powers which move against us. We have set a course to make war upon a faceless foe, one which has stood the test of time a thousand times over. It would be the same were we to make war upon the dark. Yet it is a struggle that must be had; it is a test of our character and of our beliefs. And while we can never compromise with Evil, we must never be afraid to compromise with men, for that is who take up arms under the banner of (radical) Islam: mere men, pawns of a darker and more malevolent force.
Osama bin Laden was a hero to his followers. They saw him as a freedom fighter, lashing out against the greatest evils the world has ever known. They saw him, with his band of men and weapons, as something of a David flinging stones at a Goliath. They saw him as he saw himself, no doubt. I do not agree with several of America’s foreign policies. I, personally, strongly believe in a Palestinian state. I see American imperialism around the world and frown. Yet the point we must understand, and agree to, is that even when we disagree with someone, we cannot demonize him or her. We cannot misconstrue our enemies’ beliefs, and we cannot sacrifice our own beliefs to make war upon theirs. We have treaded a dangerous line this past decade. We have given up to our government freedoms and rights, which we shall regret. The Patriot Act stands as a travesty of justice and liberty alike. With the many dead, this is bin Laden’s legacy and victory: he has led us to forget ourselves. Therefore, let us take some time in the near future to ponder just what we have let be forgotten. Just what we have allowed to be made misty, where once there was light.
In Osama bin Laden’s death, we have killed a single man. We have not changed the face of history; we have not transformed the altercation in which we find ourselves; we have not won anything more than the ability to fill a single body bag.
And yet while I do not agree with killing, while I do not support any murder: my first thought at his death was, “I won’t miss the bastard.” If nothing else, I understand how hard it is to fight against the urge to rejoice and to instead convert that burning, fiery energy into an illuminating, warming force which can be used for good. I’ve walked that road myself and stumbled upon a stunningly radiant land. What I have found since my arrival is the realization that we mustn’t allow ourselves to fall in love with our hate; that we mustn’t descend to the depths of our foes: that we must instead choose to rise above that of which we feel ourselves capable, soaring higher than any would have ever thought to expect. Here, under the light of a brilliant sun, we must build our homes, working ever-forward toward the actualization of our ideals, grounded in love and exercised with charity. Only then is there hope for our world. Only then shall we find peace.