Monday, May 2, 2011

I'm Not Celebrating bin Laden's Death

I, like many, was shocked when I heard last night bin Laden had been killed. It's one of those days that after almost 10 years, many of us thought would never happen. I had just started my time at UC Berkeley when the twin towers fell. It defined much of my time in Berkeley. The 9/11 attacks defined a lot of my psychology work, too, as my dissertation focused on Muslim-Christian interfaith peacemaking. When I went to New York City to present some of the results at the Association for Moral Education, my trip felt like a pilgrimage. Seeing Ground Zero brought tears to my eyes, and I remembered why I spent years on this project.

I am relieved that bin Laden can no longer wreck havoc. However, I am saddened that it had to be death. Not that I'm surprised. I remember debating a Berkeley poli sci prof back in late 2001 or early 2002 that practically, the only way to really stop bin Laden was for him to die (can you image the rescue attempts and bounties and blackmails that would occur if he was imprisoned?).

Yet death is always tragic.

I'm definitely not an Obama fan, but I give him (or his speechwriter) a standing ovation for his address to the world last night. He recognized the significance of this tactical feat (after 10 years of trying, it definitely was a major feat). He acknowledged the Bush administration's contributions to this fight. And he didn't glory in death.

I, like many, hope and pray this brings additional closure to all of the families of people who died in the terrorist attacks and resulting military actions over the years.

At the same time, however crazy it may sound, we must remember that bin Laden was one of God's children. I have no doubt that God cried at bin Laden's actions. But I'm sure he cried at bin Laden's death, too. No matter the horrific actions we may take in life, we are still made and loved by God.

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