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What to Think About the Death of Osama Bin Laden - Sardonic Artery
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What to Think About the Death of Osama Bin Laden
Maybe you heard the President announce a couple of days ago that Osama Bin Laden is dead.

Maybe you’re on social networking sites and have heard easily a hundred opinions on the matter. Some people are happy that he got killed; some people believe that it’s not right to experience joy over the death of another, not even someone like Osama Bin Laden. I see quotes from Martin Luther King and quotes from Gandhi. I see scriptures about justice prevailing and then I see scriptures citing the need to leave judgment—and the emotions of that judgment—for God alone (although not both types from the same person). I see comments praising the President and I see an outcry over him not giving the brave soldiers their due. I see a lot of opinions from a lot of angles.

You, too?

So what am I supposed to think? I mean, feelings you just feel, regardless of what you think of them, so it doesn’t really matter if I understand someone else’s feelings on the matter. I don’t even understand my own feelings half the time. I have feelings that tell me to be fed up with my kid or split from my wife, but they’re not completely accurate, are they? Feelings are great indicators that something is right or wrong, but they are not reality. The feelings that tell me to be fed up with my kid might simply be pointing to the need to recharge my batteries; otherwise I might unfairly punish my child for what is more of a burnout factor on my end than some monumental increase in her misbehavior. And that feeling that tells me to split from my wife, isn’t that just an indicator that we’re both not getting our needs met and it’s causing us to argue more? Often it is, but my feelings still want to run to an end result that I’ll feel different about later. Feelings aren’t worthless, but they’re not the complete picture either.

But what am I to think about the death of a man who allegedly masterminded the 9/11 attacks and who claimed credit for several other acts of terrorism? Is there a way to be objective here? Is Martin Luther King the foremost authority on how to respond to the death of Osama Bin Laden, and would he even apply his own quote to the death of this terrorist? It’s not like I can go ask him or read his blog, regardless of how many people copy and paste his quotes (some of which may, in fact, be dubious) and apply them to the situation. Maybe if I get a Super Team to all agree on this I can win by some sort of quotable people consensus. If I want peace I pick Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, John Lennon and Eleanor Roosevelt. If I want justice, I take Solomon (quoting Proverbs—because God gave him wisdom), Winston Churchill, Sun Tzu, Clarence Thomas and George Orwell.

But what if my Super Team doesn’t agree? What if they’ve even said things that could be used to retort against their initial quotes? What if I don’t even quote someone famous? Maybe I prefer my neighbor’s quote to Garrison Keillor’s, but no one knows who she is. Maybe not enough people know who Garrison Keillor is.

When it comes right down to it, I don’t believe we have to choose as if only one viewpoint can win and they somehow have to battle it out. I believe in the scriptures that call for justice and the scriptures that remind me to not gloat over the death of my enemy. I agree with the quotes of both of my Super Teams (otherwise why would I have chosen them to being with?). I believe that most issues in life are a complicated stack of Venn diagrams, a series of seemingly irreconcilable angles that overlap, regardless of whether or not we think they should go together. God has taught me that life if often more paradoxical than we give it credit. With Jesus on the cross for the sins of the world I see justice and mercy together where they should not be. With the death of Osama Bin Laden I see the need for justice, the need for forgiveness, joy, sadness and a plethora of other emotions together where they should not be.

I know a man who stabbed a guy on a street corner, left him clutching his guts while the ambulance came. I could tell you why this happened, maybe you’d even think it justified, but inevitably, this guy I know, he had to go to prison. Even as someone I like or have some understanding of, he’s still staring at a cell right now. So what about someone I don’t like and don’t even know? What should I feel and think about him?

Mostly, I am not sure what I’m feeling, but I recognize I feel my emotions different than others feel theirs. When I feel a lot of things, nothing much comes out. It’s like repeatedly turning over a Magic 8 Ball and seeing nothing but ‘Reply Hazy: Try Again.’ Others go through several emotions one after the other. Others just feel whatever emotion is dominant, regardless of what else is in there. So feel what you feel—it’s not like we have a choice at that fundamental level anyway—but we have to recognize the limits of these emotions.

I believe we also have to recognize the limitations of our communication, especially in today’s world. I mean, if I’m intentionally keeping this below a certain word count, can I really grasp the breadth of the situation with any form of eloquence in 140 characters on Twitter (especially if I just blew 6% of those characters on ‘eloquence’)? Even with abbreviations—if you can appropriately abbreviate ‘eloquence’—how can I not sound like I’m missing the point? In turn, how much can I really say in a Facebook comment or even this here blog? I know I can’t squeeze in every angle—haven’t even touched the conspiracy theories—and though it’s easy to pick apart my arguments, like Ted Bundy said, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”

(Kidding, it was Bill Cosby, but you should probably still check the sources cited.)

Bottom line: This is a complicated issue. People are going to feel and think a lot of things; you’re going to feel and think a lot of things; and it’s okay to have too much everything and not enough ways to express it. As for me, there are gaps in my knowledge, my opinion is tainted by my experiences and limitations, but I believe it, I really do, even if I can’t even begin to understand (let alone justify) why that is.
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