Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Fessing Up: My bin Laden Problem

I am not a very good Christian.  This is not the first time I've realized this, but it's hit home in a deeper way in the last couple days.

When I heard the news late Sunday night that Osama bin Laden had been killed, I was glad.  Not jumping up and down with joy, not calling my five favorite people to celebrate -- not that.  But more than mildly satisfied. 

Last night, lying in bed, I got around to processing a fact I had learned a couple hours earlier.  bin Laden saw the bullet coming:  He realized he was about to be shot.  It occurred to me then that bin Laden must have experienced genuine fear in the nanosecond before his death.  Regardless of how much bullshit bravado and wannabe-matyr's self-glorification an individual has engaged in up to that point, when there's a gun pointing at him and he realizes the odds are greater than not that he will be killed, there has to be a quick stab of fear.  And for some reason, I liked the idea that bin Laden experienced such fear.  Maybe because he caused so many innocent people to experience a fear that was as least as deep -- on September 11, of course; also on October 12, 2000, when the USS Cole was bombed; and in other instances that I know too little of to catalog here.

It's not the Christian thing to be happy about anyone dying violently.  It's not the Christian thing to hope that anyone -- even someone who embraced evil as willingly and frequently as bin Laden -- suffered at the moment of death.  That was not what Christ taught -- not at all.

I know what I should be doing is praying for God's mercy on his soul.  And I am doing that, a few seconds today, a few seconds yesterday.  Along with asking God's mercy and healing for all those whom bin Laden and his followers killed or psychologically maimed. 

I'm fighting the part of me that wants to be glad about the way this man died.  Maybe the best reason to wage that fight inside me is so my own soul does not become cold and prone to dehumanizing anyone...even bin Laden.  Because I'm guessing having a cold soul prone to turning others into objects -- targets -- is how bin Laden became bin Laden.

May God have mercy on all of us sinners.  Osama bin Laden included.

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