The other night while we were watching “The Apprentice”, the program was interrupted with breaking news. Immediately, I tensed up, expecting the news to be a major natural disaster such as the Earthquake in Haiti, the tsunami in Asia, or Hurricane Katrina and when I heard the news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed, I felt relief at first because it was good news. Quickly though, that turned to a feeling of being unsettled. How was it that I was categorizing a death, the death of a relatively young man, as good news?
For a short while, I watched as Americans gathered outside the White House to cheer and celebrate, but I wasn’t able to watch it for long. Again, I found it unsettling. I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like for a nation to celebrate my death. I understood the reasoning behind the celebration, the feeling of victory over terrorism, revenge almost a decade after a tragedy that forever changed America, but it still somehow seemed wrong. I couldn’t put my finger on why I felt so yuck about the jubilation I was seeing until yesterday when I read the following quote on a friend’s Facebook status:
”I 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.
Those words spoken so many years ago by a man who understood the devastation that hatred leaves in its wake, by a man who is one of my heros, sum up exactly how I feel about this latest news. I am saddened by what Osama Bin Laden did in his lifetime, but I do not rejoice in his death. I mourn for those who lost loved ones on 9/11 or in other terrorist attacks orchestrated by him, but I mourn also for his family. I cannot put myself in the shoes of his victims. If I were one of them, there is a strong chance I might feel differently, but I have flashbacks of the images I saw on 9/11…images of people in other countries dancing in the streets, rejoicing at the deaths of Americans, images that at the time were more disturbing to me than when I watched in horror as the Twin towers fell. When you peel back the layer of excuses (this man was an enemy of democracy, of America, of nations everywhere…this man causes suffering and death…this man “deserved” to die), you are left with images of people in the streets of a nation halfway from his world celebrating a death and it disturbs me and draws parallels to that day almost ten years ago. I feel unsettled, uneasy. There is one more quote I read on another friend’s Facebook status yesterday that summed this all up for me:
”There is only one death that ever brought peace, and we celebrated that a week ago.”