Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Our Response

So it has been a little while ... OK, a long while, since I blogged. It is amazing how time gets away. Still, I found myself with some thoughts that needed expression, so here I am. I would love to do this more, but just never seem to find the time.

Enough whining.

The last 2 days have been somewhat troubling or disturbing, and I feel that to admit that would cause some to question my patriotism or even my moral compass. Certainly, Osama bin Laden planned and committed evil atrocities that are so reprehensible that it would seem impossible that a human being could consider such thoughts. And I do believe that justice has been served, and I am grateful to the men and women who have spent years seeking to bring him to justice.

My discomfort comes from the celebration.

People lining the streets and celebrating the way people do when their favorite sports team wins a championship. Some of the facebook posts that pop up in my news feed. Even watching "Dancing with the Stars" last night and hearing one liners about the events of this past Sunday. Something about it just seems ... off.

Perhaps it is because we have just emerged from Easter, the celebration of resurrection, the announcement of new life. "Where, O death, is thy victory? Where, O death, is thy sting?" I always remember one of my seminary professors who said, quite bluntly, "Death is never our friend. Death is the enemy." Isn't our Christian hope that death has been overcome? It seems unnerving to me then to celebrate a death, to celebrate a killing when I have so recently mourned on Good Friday the suffering of the cross and celebrated death's defeat on Easter.

Jesus said, "But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous." No, I didn't love Osama bin Laden. I hated him. I hated the death and destruction he caused. But does my justifiable hate somehow excuse me from the command of Christ, to love my enemy and pray for my persecutor? Can I do such while throwing a party that says, "I'm glad you are dead"?

A friend posted a passage on Facebook, Ezekiel 18:23. I went and looked it up and read the whole passage. Very interesting.

"Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord GOD, and not rather that they should turn from their ways and live? But when the righteous turn away from their righteousness and commit iniquity and do the same abominable things that the wicked do, shall they live? None of the righteous deeds that they have done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which they are guilty and the sin they have committed, they shall die. Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord is unfair.' Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair? When the righteous turn away from their righteousness and commit iniquity, they shall die for it; for the iniquity that they have committed they shall die. Again, when the wicked turn away from the wickedness they have committed and do what is lawful and right, they shall save their life. Because they considered and turned away from all the transgressions that they have committed, they shall surely live; they shall not die. Yet the house of Israel says, 'The way of the Lord is unfair.' O house of Israel, are my ways unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair?"

When I read this, I thought back 10 years to scenes of people celebrating in the streets in certain parts of the world after 9/11. We were disgusted. We asked, "How could you celebrate such a thing?" I wonder if we ought not ask that same question now of ourselves as a country. Death is the enemy. That is why someone like Osama bin Laden, who willingly and intentionally brought death, was the enemy. I fear the slope to that level is slippery if we celebrate death the way we have in recent days. Justice has been served; we are grateful that (hopefully) the destructive work of one man has been brought to an end. We should make sure that we do not turn from righteousness and become guilty of the same wickedness to which we fell victim.

I don't question the events of Sunday. I question our response. But maybe that is too far beyond my scope. As I look back at Ezekiel, maybe the response I should be questioning is mine.

1 comment:

Rebecca Cummings said...

I agree completely, especially when I was woken up at 1:30am by a mob of people. Here, at school they burned a picture of Bin Laden. I am proud to be an American, but I am ashamed to be associated with them. We sunk to a deep level of rubbing it in the world's face. We celebrated a death, and some think the war is over, but it isn't. I am ashamed at how our country reacted. They acted like a bunch of five year olds who won a soccer game against the kids they don't like.