Monday, May 2, 2011

Celebrating a death?

Last night, along with hundreds of thousands of others across the world, I watched President Obama announce that Osama bin Laden was dead.

This was monumental news and we were witnessing history unfold. After the announcement, the cameras switched to the celebrations taking place outside the White House. Throngs of people, many of them waving flags and chanting "U.S.A." crowded together to share their joy.

All over the U.S people began to party in the streets and  not just outside the White House in Washington, and in Times Square, NYC .  Even over here on the west coast in Portland OR, far away from Ground Zero and the Pentagon, crowds gathered in the center of town to cheer and celebrate the death of the most wanted man in the world.

But for me there was something wrong about the images and I couldn't quite say what. Bin Laden deserved punishment that is certain. The people who lost loved ones on 9/11 deserve some kind of closure. And the world is probably a better place without him, (although Ayman al-Zawahiri is still free and there are plenty of others who will step into his shoes).   But regardless of how I viewed the situation I simply couldn't  feel the same level of excitement and elation that the people partying on Pennsylvania Avenue so clearly felt, and I wasn't quite sure why.

 And then, just a few minutes ago, I checked in on facebook. The most recent status update in my news feed had been posted by my daughter. What she wrote summed up what I had been feeling all day.

"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. -  via Amy Cleary, my wise and compassionate daughter.

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