Osama Bin Laden is Dead: Response and Reflection

Yesterday, President Obama announced that the United States conducted an operation that resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden. The U.S. has been after Bin Laden since September 11th, 2001, and many people have rejoiced greatly that this long-standing mission has now been completed.

This news spread fast, partially because of the abundant number of Twitter users. In fact, I saw the news about fifteen minutes before Obama made the official statement, because someone told a news source and Twitter was suddenly in an uproar. It is a strange thing to hear news so quickly, but it is not the first time that major news travelled at this speed. Many Twitter users knew about Michael Jackson’s death within what seemed like minutes of his passing. The speed at which information disseminates continues to boggle my mind, even though I am part of the generation that should be fine with it.

The vast majority of people who saw the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death reacted with rejoicing. Some praised God, others wished him a good riddance, and others made jokes about his death (ranging from Chuck Norris references to a joke that he was a character actor on Fox News). A few people said that this would win Obama reelection; it will certainly play a part when it comes time to vote. A few people were saddened by the fact that a man had died, and seemed unconcerned with the life that this man lived.

I personally can relate to nearly all of the above people (I am not quite so quick to throw a joke out there, even as I understand that some people simply think and act that way). As a Christian, I find that I need to balance my love of justice with my necessary respect for anyone made in the image of God. As an American, I am hesitant to believe that this move will bring about a lot of good; we may have just made a martyr, instead of cutting the snake’s head off. Also as an American, and more specifically as a man who lives in a country  at war, I celebrate with my fellow countrymen that we have achieved a victory.

The whole situation is complicated. No one should rejoice in the death of another, but we do rejoice in justice and in victory in war. No one likes war, or at least no one should like war, but we all wish to be victors in any war in which we find ourselves. I celebrate that a man who caused many deaths was brought to justice, even as I mourn that he was killed, especially without trial. It is a strange time to be a Christian and an American, but that is not a novel truth.

May God watch over each of our souls as we learn to pray for others.

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    • Stephen Hale
    • May 3rd, 2011

    Exactly, James. Exactly. Justice demanded he be caught at a minimum, and he wasn’t going to stop helping kill people. Much like (I’m sorry to do this) Hitler, it was just really clear he had to be stopped.

    On the other hand, Jesus tells us to love our enemies. He had to tell us because we don’t want to and it seems like a silly thing to do. To pray for those who spitefully use us? If there is a better description of what al-Qaeda does with it’s victims, i don’t know what it is. They despise the people they are killing and use them to make a wider political point.

    Love your enemies. Seek justice. We have to do both. Unfortunately, the wider world knows 1 very well, and so it’s easy for us Christians to do that one. Society doesn’t teach us to do the other, so we have to work much harder at it.

    -Stephen

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