Life is a Mystery

2 May 2011

All kinds of sadness

This morning I woke to the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed by US special forces in Pakistan. I believe that bin Laden reaped what he had sown. I will not mourn his death or worry overmuch about the means by which he was brought down. But on first blush I am, again, worried about the soul of America. The first hint I had of the event was the sound of cheering crowds I heard on the radio. I thought the wedding story was carrying on for far too long. Instead, when Mary showed me the front page of our local paper, with its image of the impromptu celebration in front of the White House, my heart skipped a beat. We are dancing on a grave. How proud can I be about that?

While I accept that the means used to bring bin Laden down were necessary, I also realize that they should be distasteful to a powerful democracy. This was a covert operation, a dark attack that ended in an assassination. We did what we had to do, we did what bin Laden made us do. We have become something we should be at least a bit wary of. To think that this closes the book on 9/11 is very shortsighted. Dancing, cheering, and celebrating this transformation hardly seems worthy of who we were before 9/11, but it may be a fair indication of who we have become since. That leaves me feeling all kinds of sadness for our country today.


One Response to “All kinds of sadness”

johns976 / 5 May 2011 / 3:57pm

I had the same kind of sadness, or at least ambiguity, when I wrote a note to the White House following the President’s speech Sunday night. I found myself unable to say (or write) that I was thankful for a killing. I thanked the President, his advisers, and the many men and women in the military and intelligence communities for their dedication, diligence, and patriotism. But I could not use the word “kill” or mention bin Laden by name. I was searching for words, but not sure I came up with the exact thoughts or sentiment that I was searching for. It was an uneasy feeling, yet I wanted in some way to express my thanks.

At the same time I also reminded the President of a command that both he and I are aware of, and which we should try to follow as best we can in our all too human way: to pray for our enemies and those who persecute us. It is a command that comes from a higher authority, and one–as difficult as it is–that we need to heed. I wonder, as I write this comment, what Bonhoeffer was thinking as he lived and worked in wartime Germany. I’ll have to go back to his writings to see. He’s usually a pretty good guide in matters such as this.

In any event, your post gave voice to what was roaming through my own spirit the night before. We need to think (and act) in accord to the best that is in our character and nature as a country. I’m not sure we hit that mark on Sunday night.

Eric Celeste / Saint Paul, Minnesota / 651.323.2009 /