2 May 2011

Death of Osama Bin Laden - A Christian Response? - UPDATED

‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.
‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” 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. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters,* what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:38-48)

It is hard today not to be somehow, "satisfied" at the news from Pakistan this morning concerning the killing of Osama bin Laden by US forces. As someone who was at the White House the morning of 9/11, I remember in vivid detail the panic, the chaos and the heartache of that terrible day. The memory that stands out for me is being in the hotel room where we had escaped back to and watching the scenes of people jumping from the Twin Towers in New York.

But I am also thinking of the hundreds of Afghani's, Pakistani's and Iraqi's that have suffered since. The hundreds of American and Coalition servicemen and women who have been killed and maimed fighting the "War on Terror" for which Bin Laden was the poster boy and thinking what exactly has his death achieved? There is a rabbinic story that the angels celebrated after the Egyptians were drowned in the Red Sea, but God stopped them, saying, "They were my children, too." It may be a lesser evil to remove Bin Laden from the face of the earth, but it's still just that, a necessary evil.How many more lives were lost in pursuit of him?

Has anyone looked at the grievances of the Arab street and the concerns raised about the life of people in the Middle East which generated the support for Bin Laden? What support has been given to a true and meaningful peace process in the Holy Land? In the last few days the Palestinians have formed a unity government to represent their people but Israel and USA have said they wont enter into dialogue with it. As we know only too well in this country, in a harsh hard lesson learnt over 30 years of pain and heartache, it is only when you bring the extremists in from the margins, when you challenge the issues they raise and engage in meaningful dialogue that you can begin to build a peace.

Christians of all denominations only a week ago celebrated the pinnacle of our faith, when one man over turned the belief of eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth and called us to love, ultimately rejecting violence for a way of peace.

Yesterday when this happened was Divine Mercy Sunday when we are reminded to turn again to the mercy of God. We are all sinners and cannot stand at any mans grave and say to the Lord "he deserves hell and divine punishment", we can only stand and pray, "Lord have mercy".

From the Holy See, the reminder is as follows (with my emphasis):
"Osama Bin Laden, as is known, claimed responsibility for grave acts that spread division and hate among the peoples, manipulating religion to that end. A Christian never takes pleasure from the fact of a man's death, but sees it as an opportunity to reflect on each person's responsibility, before God and humanity, and to hope and commit oneself to seeing that no event become another occasion to disseminate hate but rather to foster peace".


Other links from around the web looking at the issue:

Deacon Greg has a couple of articles;

The NYT gives an analysis of the events behind the hunt for Bin Laden and one point that leaps out at you from the reportage,"On Sunday afternoon, as the helicopters raced over Pakistani territory, the president and his advisers gathered in the Situation Room of the White House to monitor the operation as it unfolded. Much of the time was spent in silence. Mr. Obama looked “stone faced,” one aide said. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. fingered his rosary beads. “The minutes passed like days,” recalled John O. Brennan, the White House counterterrorism chief"

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