Thursday, May 5, 2011

Reflecting on the Death of Bin Laden: Loren's 10 cents.

(okay, its actually more like a buck-twenty five)
This is Loren, Tara's husband, posting for myself and not her, so these are my own thoughts.

I concur with the reactions expressed here, and am proud of my wife to articulate such thoughts and have this dialogue with you. I agree with Mama C too, that it is healthy and necessary to address the controversial and reflect on the aspects of this and similar events. That we can in this manner, we should give thanks for such freedom of speech...

The death of bin ladin is complex. It has tremendous propaganda value, expressing the "might of the USA" and our ability to "procure justice for all." Presumably this amounts to equal retributions for those who would sin against us (though more than 40% of the US population purports to routinely pray for "forgiveness of those who sin against us" on a regular Christian basis, rather than "two taps to the head"). The killing of bin ladin "as a way to cut off the head of the snake," presumes an undeniable guilt (he did admit to helping plan 9/11 and was proud of that act, and continued to lead others to attempt other such acts of violence after all). Further bin ladin's guilt, the scope of his crimes, and the risks he seemed to pose to the free world have all been used to justify what amounts to the targeted killing of multiple peoples, including women and in front of children, and the invasion of air space of a sovereign nation. And most of the Western world, and surprisingly Arab world, have taken this all in stride. We Americans even took to the streets to "celebrate." This "victory over evil" has been compared to the successful downing of Admiral Yamamoto's aircraft during World War II as "one of the greatest American achievements in securing a psychological victory over our aggressors (Bloomberg Media, Wednesday's edition)" in the history of our country.

The reality is the death of bin ladin has little bearing on our security, as I think we all agree. It serves to justify our actions abroad as a waring nation this past decade. It serves to send a warning to terrorists everywhere. It serves to define "good" vs. "evil" with good prevailing. Ever wonder why our history books alwasy show us as "the good guys" in our efforts abroad? It is because we as a culture, more so than many other on the globe today or even those before, have an ingrained conflict of puritanical ways and personal freedoms pitched against a sence of justice for all. If we see ourselves as the good guys, and we want the good guys to win, then we must win in the fights we fight and conflicts we face.

But it is when this sense of justice for all hits home, when we go after the "really bad guys" who have attacked us, killed us even, damaged our homes and homeland, and who would just as soon see small town America afraid as those in our largest cities, that we find ourselves most conflicted.

If we are truly all created equal, if we are all one nation, under God, and are a beacon of hope to the rest of the world, are Reagan's "shining city on the Hill," then how can we justify organized murder led and planned by our highest elected leader? How can we justify the bombing of Dresden, napalm in the jungles of Vietnam, genocide of the First Nations, carpet-bagging in the South, the burning of witches, segregtion of blacks and whites, or the killing of one bin ladin? The answer is we cannot, and that is why we are conflcited, why we shake our heads at those caught up in the national fervor, embraced by the media and say "that's not me, that's not US."

And that in fact is what we should all do. We should all be brave enough to carry this conversation beyond the blog and into our lives and not be afraid to profess love over hate, to profess forgiveness over sins, to stand up for what we believe in and see freedom of equality applying to our unmet brothers and sisters around the globe, and yes, even our enemies.

(By the way, this philosophy of love your neighbor is really bad business. You can't sell military hardware or virus protectors or hand guns or international export taxes with the ironically-named Golden Rule. You won't get elected president if you try to love the terrorists. But you might sleep better at night, and your life will be richer for it.)

In the end there is no glory in killing, regardless of your justification. I have wanted to kill humans before when my mother was the victim of a violent crime. I have had moments where I would not have hestiated to kill those who threatened my family. I have held a handgun to a stranger's head who came in to my home at night, drunk and lost. I have killed animals to feed others and looked in their eye as they died at my hands. I promise you there is no glory in any of this. My grandfather was a WWII veteran who served in the army and saw combat and never ever spoke of glory of his actions, only warned that I do everything in my power to never go to war if I could help it.

And so there is no glory in bin lad in's death. There is no glory in the streets of New York. There is at best closure for some, and at worst political propaganda busy at work and fueled by a largely biased media. And that is why, I think, we don't feel very American watching others cheer the death of another man. I suspect there were many beyond the crowds of Golgotha who felt much the same.


  1. Loren, thanks for sharing your keen insights also. I'm tracking right with you. Until the last sentence. Bin Laden's death was that of an admitted killer and terrorist who chose to disregard the Law of Love. Jesus was an innocent man who embodied the Law of Love. He willingly gave his life to pay the penalty for sin making it possible for all mankind to have spiritual life and a personal relationship with Him / God. There is no comparison.

    But, perhaps I've misunderstood your intent and you are comparing onlookers of the 2 events. That being the case, there may be some similarity in the range of emotions experienced. But even then, the difference between the two events will be magnified in the actions of the followers. Some to vengence and jihad. Some to love and self-sacrifice. They will be known by their fruit.

  2. Good on both of you, LP. My spirit cringes at the reactions of so many young Americans, but I am,as usual, proud to be in the same canoe as you and Tara.

  3. LP Again:

    Good catch Mama C. My intent with that last comparison was two-fold: looking at the fact that the power of the crowd can be overwhelming to most, and second that despite vast differences, both Christ and bin ladin were men. If we follow the teaching of the first then we are to love the latter, as difficult or impossible to imagine as that might be. Regardless, dancing in the streets cannot be justified 2000 years ago nor today.