”I will 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.
I don't usually blog about topics political on here, as it seems those topics tend to be ones that can cause dissention amongst friends and family, and that really isn't the point of this blog. That being said, I have been feeling a heaviness this week, a sense of something very spiritually amiss while following the national response to the recent death of Osama Bin Laden.
It is an interesting phenomenon to see people actively celebrating the death of another human being. Was Bin Laden an evil man? He was a man who chose to live by the ideals of intolerance and hatred. There are many people in the world who live by those ideals. What made Bin Laden unique was that he had a tremendous ability to make other people believe in his ideals. Maybe his "evilness" was a function of his influence more than anything else.
People who live by the sword generally die by the sword, so the fact that Bin Laden is finally dead, if he indeed is, should come as no surprise. What is a surprise to me is seeing so many people making a party out of the occasion, including many members of the religious community. I came across the above MLK Jr. quote on a friend's Facebook page and the truth in it really rings clear. Celebrating Osama Bin Laden's death as though it is the end of all evil in the world is incredibly naive. And celebrating the death of any human is a reflection of the values of hatred and intolerance which have already been the cause of so much loss and sorrow, not just for Americans, but for people all over the world.
When people say things like, "we can all sleep better at night now that Bin Laden is dead" it makes me lay awake at night trying to figure out why. Are we really safer now? If we are, you will soon see the government backing up out of everyone's coolaid with their myriad infringements on our civil liberties in the name of national security. All my money, marbles and chalk says that aint gonna happen. Do you know why? Its because we are no safer now than we ever were, or ever will be until humans stop relying on wars as a way to solve our problems.
What peace of mind does that passing of Bin Laden actually offer people? Bin Laden was just a man, but the power of his ideas went well beyond what any one human is capable of. In his passing, we can hope that his ideas die with him, but they wont. There are probably hundreds of other men and women with the same ideals, and powers of persuasion waiting in the wings to take his place. Celebrating Osama Bin Laden's death is easy, in a "yeah, we got the bad guy" kind of way. But easy does not always equal best.
Especially for those in the spiritual community, this should be a sobering time, a time to reflect on the values we promote in our own lives. The only way to really stamp out the negative impression that Bin Laden has left on this earth is to fill it with an even greater amount of love and understanding. To do that takes the persistent and unrewarded work of many lifetimes, but it is, in my humble opinion, well worth our best efforts. There was this one guy, I think his name was Jesus, and he encouraged us all to strive towards this goal.
We need to do better, to put our race, politics and religion aside and engage in a meaningful dialogue with someone who is "different" or makes us feel uncomfortable. Reach out to our neighbors, to our community, and to our brothers and sisters of the human race. We need to be mindful of the ripple effect that our actions and attitudes have in our global community, and how those actions can shape the attitudes and beliefs of others. We are all children of God. All humans are born with the seeds of both good and evil, but it is our environment, and ultimately our own choices, which dictate which ones we cultivate. Water the right seeds, think about the bigger picture. Don't just go with what is easy, or pop-patriotic. In doing so, you also set an example for the people around you. You might become a light in the darkness for someone who would otherwise become very, very lost. Lost like Osama Bin Laden. It wont matter how much money we invest in wars, and military intel, Osama Bin Ladin will never be dead until we can weed out our own hatred and ignorance.