What’s the Right Response?

Since late last night, I’ve been watching the news about the death of Osama bin Laden.  I’ve also been watching the reactions to his death.  I’m struggling with what I see.  The celebrations, I mean.

I remember in the days after 9/11, like the rest of the country and perhaps the world, I was glued to my television.  I went to church that next Sunday and was struck by a phrase my pastor used.  He was angry, as we all were – angry and probably scared.  He said during the service something about wishing Afghanistan would become “Lake Afghanistan.”  When I heard those words, my heart broke again.  That he – or we – could wish death and destruction on an entire nation of people pained me.  Similarly, watching the celebration of bin Laden’s death pains me.

I believe in the mission of capturing and even killing that man.  But what is the right response to that mission being accomplished?  Is it celebration?  It is cheering and hooting and hollering?  I don’t know.  My gut says no.  Maybe “right” is too strong a word.  Maybe there is no “right” or “wrong” in how we respond here.  I just don’t know.

I can understand the celebration, but I cannot join in it.  I grieve for his life and the lives he took.  I am grateful for the work of this nation in stopping him.  But celebration feels as wrong to me today as hatred felt in the days after 9/11. 

I am not at Ground Zero today.  I wish I could be.  In honor of that place and the lives that were lost and the efforts that this nation has made towards the restoration of peace and security among its people, I sit in my little home and light a candle.  And I say a prayer.  Because I simply don’t know what else to do.

7 thoughts on “What’s the Right Response?

  1. Trina, the kids and I have have been talking through the same thing. We don't want to diminish the cathartic effect that folks are feeling, but we're uneasily managing the balance between Jesus' charge to love our enemies and the notion of God establishing government to administer justice in the here & now. The kids are concerned, too, about the retaliation they're sure will follow, so we're trying to put this in the larger context of mankind's ongoing struggle to overcome sin.

  2. Taline, I think it says something about the human spirit when people are so quick to celebrate the demise of anyone. I think you're right that there might not be a right response – that you're even thoughtful enough to consider every aspect is worth more than you might think. love you!

  3. This was beautifully said, and I'm grateful you said it. I feel the same way, and I've seen others express this sentiment today too. I bet a lot of people are confused about how to react, and I think that's the right response. I was in NYC last night, and heard the news right before going to bed. I wondered whether I'd hear a commotion in my sister's Brooklyn neighborhood, but I didn't.

  4. Well said. I think a lot of us are in the same spot. I will say this…when 9/11 happened, I was frozen and unable to really take it all in. I didn't shed a tear for days…in fact not until I took a plane back to Austin from El Paso when they lifted the ban on flying. This morning I cried remembering all the people taken…and a sadness washed over me know that the bitterness lingers in so many hearts.

  5. What goes around comes around. The militant radicals were dancing in the streets on 9/11 and we were disgusted in the midst of our grief. Almost 10 years later we are the ones 'dancing'. It is not the right response on so many levels.We are better than that. We need austerity and reflection. Taline thanks for another thought-provoking post.

  6. Aunt Tanny,I for one am happy he's gone. However, my teacher in english class said something that struck my conscience. She said, "I am glad he is gone, but his death doesn't undo what he did and all the people he killed." I agree; when Osama died I felt like there should be some sort of celebration. But I think God was catching my attention that Osama was gonna have to answer for his actions before God, and so our job should be to try to deal with what is going to happen as a retaliation. Just remember to pray and God Bless America!

  7. Taline – Thank you for your post. I was also struggling with all of the reactions. I can't seem to celebrate the death of anybody, even under the circumstances. The entire situation is just tragic to me.

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