I must admit, this is a challenging blog to write. Not because I have conflicted feelings about my beliefs on this, but because of the potential backlash from those who disagree with me.
From The Bible, Romans 13:9: “For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
It continues to amaze me, as a Christian, how many who claim themselves as Christians, are also supporters of the death penalty. How many stand so militantly on the 10 Commandments, quick to condemn anyone breaking them, or even perceived to be breaking them, only to then beg forgiveness when they themselves cross the line. Even with the whole, “thou shalt not kill” thing, 74 percent of United States evangelicals support the death penalty. (Pew Forum poll, August, 2007). As a Christian, I see this as blatantly hypocritical. What justification do these Christians give for supporting something that one of the 10 Commandments says not to do? Although there are none listed in that article, I perused other arguments on the web, several bible passages of which have been interpreted to support the desire for retribution by authors of articles, but none that would come even close, in my mind, to offset the clear and direct mandate: “thou shalt not kill” in Romans.
As a Christian, my own beliefs under that banner lead me to believe “thou shalt not kill” to be the rule in every regard except self-defense (and, no, invading another country to kill its leader, no matter how pissed off at him we are, is never self-defense). The same is true for the death penalty.
Where the heck are you going with this???
Tonight, my country, the country that I love and support with all my heart, the country that I believe embodies the BEST form of government on Earth (though clearly not perfect), has broken into spontaneous celebration over the killing of a man, Osama bin Laden. As I watch, people are gathering by the hundreds, perhaps thousands, in front of the White House, cheering, singing the Star Spangled Banner, even singing “na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye” to bin Laden. I’ve watched “news” correspondents and intelligence personnel saying this was a great moment and that they were thrilled that bin Laden had been killed, also stating that he was a person that “all Americans hated” and that he was “the face of evil”.
This has brought up strong feelings in me, none of which, by the way, is hate. Nor do I believe that bin Laden was “evil”, since I don’t believe in evil. For all the acts he planned or endorsed, bin Laden did not wake up and think “how can I be more evil today?” For however much I completely disagreed with his acts and what he believed, I’m also completely certain that he believed what he was doing was making the world a better place for his children.
The feelings that this event has brought up in me are those of melancholy and heavy-heartedness. Not for the loss of this man, but for two reasons: 1) that we were not able to bring him to justice without killing him, and 2) because, unlike apparently many of my fellow Americans, to me this is another spike in the tire of tolerance and acceptance of those who believe differently than we do. Don’t get me wrong, bin Laden’s actions did a tremendous amount-perhaps the most of all-to increase that intolerance on both sides. The problem is that in many parts of the world, the video of Americans celebrating the death of bin Laden will be met with the same outrage that Americans felt when they saw Al-Qaeda members cheering the fall of the World Trade Centers. I can’t help but think that this will spur an increase in hostilities and intolerance, rather than do anything positive to bring the world closer to a place of peace, acceptance, and, therefore, security.
Just a few days ago I was reflecting on how strongly I felt the protests/turnover of tyrannical governments in areas of the Middle East was bringing leaping strides towards a more peaceful and joyous world. I’ve felt, for the last couple of months, nearly as strong a sense of optimism as I did when the Berlin Wall came down. That perhaps we were taking a great leap forward towards a world of harmony among disparate peoples. It remains my fervent hope that those other changes in the Middle East (and hopefully other countries under the rule of tyrants) will quickly put the death of bin Laden back to the back pages of websites, TV, and newspapers everywhere and we can get on with the progression of My generation bringing our world ever closer to a place of tolerance, peace, and enlightenment.
Now I will never judge folks for going out and celebrating tonight. Let’s face it, I just don’t judge people, period. My great hope for the future, however, would be that we could come out and cheer and sing in this way over POSITIVE events, things that make our world a better and more wonderful place.
I would love your comments, feel free to speak your mind fully!