I have mixed feelings about last night’s reports that Osama bin Laden is dead. On the one hand, I understand the need for justice and I ache for those people still living with the deep loss that 9/11 caused. I was in New York City a month after the towers fell and I breathed in the smell of death and shared in the collective grief of that beautiful city in that beautiful country. I understand why people would want to destroy the person responsible for so much destruction.
On the other hand, though, what does this resolve? Does bin Laden’s death offer us any more hope for peace? Does it provide a salve for any of the wounds inflicted by him? Does it suddenly stop terrorism from forming in other parts of the world?
Sadly, terrorism does not operate under the logic that “oh – they killed bin Laden, best not to attack them”. Terrorism thrives on death. Think of the people willing to give up their lives for their cause, who hi-jacked those planes, or who blow themselves up regularly as suicide bombers. They’re not afraid of death. They will not go silently into that dark night.
Vengeance is a frightening thing once it gets ahold of you. And it has gotten ahold of a lot of people since 9/11. I keep wondering how many people will have to die in Iraq and Afghanistan before the need for blood has been satisfied. Sadly, when it comes to vengeance, there is always collateral damage. I was saddened this morning to learn that, in the attack on bin Laden’s compound, a woman was killed because she was used as a human shield. She is only one of the many, many people who have been killed in this decade long fight to avenge 9/11.
Many years ago, when a man broke into my apartment and raped me, my dad’s first reaction was to admit how badly he wanted vengeance on the man who hurt me. It was a primal and fierce reaction, and – I’ll admit – it made me feel loved. I was angry and hurt, and to see someone who loves you take up that anger and hurt along with you feels good at the moment. And so I understand the need of so many hurt Americans to see their country (and supporting countries) rise up and support them in their anger and pain.
But the legacy my father left me was not vengeance, it was peace. If he had gone after my rapist and demanded he pay for his crime with his life, he would have only served to spread hatred a little further. Instead, my father modelled peace and forgiveness in all that he did, even in learning to forgive my rapist. One of the greatest things he taught me in life was that pacifism and love are always better options than war and hatred.
Is it possible that, instead of seeking vengeance for any more hurts, we can learn to model peace for the world, just as my father modeled it for me? Can we quit fooling ourselves into believing that an eye for an eye will somehow usher in peace? Can we learn to forgive those who trespass against us and spread love instead of hate?
This morning I keep thinking this thought… “oh how badly we need Sophia leadership. Oh how badly we need wisdom that is feminine, spiritual, intuitive, creative, visionary, and compassionate in this time of so much unresolved hatred and hurt. Oh how badly we need love.”
I pray that it will be so.