[This piece is dated for sure but the ideas within it are still valid. As we wrestle with Jesus' words to love our enemies and His Gospel of non-violence, we need to sit in the midst of seeming caldron of conflicting emotions and twisted ideas of justice and allow Holy Spirit to speak to us.]
The news of notorious terrorist and catalyst of the 9/11 terror attacks has been killed by United States special forces in his home in Pakistan has been perplexing. I feel torn. Bin Laden will no longer be inspiring others towards such heinous acts and in a sense brings some closure to the 9/11 attacks. I would be lying to suggest I wasn’t relieved.
At the same time, I realize that he is dead. Shot down in cold blood, and the people who love and care for him are in mourning. Some suggest justice was done, but I struggle to see it. It is just one more dead person. His death did not bring back those who were lost in the attacks and has done nothing to be a mommy or a daddy to a child who lost theirs in the attack. It does nothing to fill the hole left from having your spouse ripped from your life in such a horrific, life altering way. I am reminded once again that evil is a mystery. A heart-ripping mystery and it defies explanation. It is for that reason, faith is the only response to such mystery. Faith that even in the face of such brutality, we, and the ones we love are not alone. Faith that death doesn't have the last word. Faith, that in the fullness of time all things will be put to right. A faith that inspires a hope for us to carry on, to endure.
I would have preferred to see Bin Laden captured alive and to face trial. I am aware that even with a guilty verdict and incarceration for the rest of his natural life it would not have brought the victims of the terror attacks back to life either. I suppose what would have been best about this is we did not respond with “an eye for an eye”. That we could have had the opportunity to demonstrate a non-violent approach to justice. One which may have been an example to the rest of the world that there is a better way to live.
I was not there for the capture and I don’t presume to second guess the actions of those involved but perhaps I do second guess the response of those who felt celebration in the streets was an appropriate response to the death of another human being. I wonder how it is received in other countries - Islamic countries, for example, to see folks rejoicing in the death of others? I know for me, watching others, regardless of religion or nationality celebrating death and destruction troublesome.
I am not pretending to have the answers but a few thoughts which are summed up in the words of Martin Luther King Jr.:
“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."
I wonder if true justice is served through love? This is not to imply people who are bound and determine to hurt others are left to do so for I believe healthy love will confront and restrain unloving behavior. But love will never violate itself to do so. By doing so would make it unjust and something less than love.
- Take a moment and reflect on the Martin Luther Kings, Jr. quote.
- How do we naturally think of Justice being served? Eye for an Eye?
- What would Justice look like through the eyes of Love? Forgiveness, Repentance, Healing while still accountable?
- In what ways can justice through the eyes of love relate to situations in your life?