I cried on the day that Saddam Hussein was executed. And, yes, they were tears of sadness. Not because I thought that Hussein was a great, upstanding guy by any stretch of the imagination; he was undoubtedly responsible for the death and suffering of many, many people.
I was upset because his hanging was celebrated in the same manner as we behave when our favorite team wins the Superbowl.
When I see a culture that is not only indifferent about the loss of life, but actually feels pleasure and delight when another being is killed, my heart sinks.
I wonder how I am to teach my children to value peace and non-violence when they are surrounded by the mixed message of “killing is wrong… unless ‘we’ have decided ‘they’ are evil… and then we have a huge party to celebrate your killing.”
The same pit that I had in my stomach in December of 2006 was there again this morning as I read a text from my husband that said, “Turn on the news. Bin Laden is dead.”
As I made my way to the TV, I wondered what the attitude of the reports would be. Perhaps the journalists would be solemn and contemplative; maybe our media would be raising important questions like, “what does Bin Laden’s death mean for us and the rest of the world? His family? Those who lost loved ones on 9/11? Those who lost loved ones fighting the war in Afghanistan?”
Or would the reports be a cheerful? After all, Bin Laden had taken responsibility for killing thousands of American men, women and children on 9/11. I would understand if there was a cheerful undertone.
But the reaction I saw brought me to my knees.
A Party in front of the White House. Seriously?
Remembrance of those who have lost their lives because of and in pursuit of this man? Absolutely!
Why not a candle light vigil? Why not have a discussion on how further loss of life could be avoided without having to murder another human? Heck, why not even have a conversation about why so many of us seem to feel this release of emotion; so much so that we are chanting “USA! USA!” in front of the White House in the middle of the night?
Our media (mind you, the very SAME media that has reported with condemnation in their voices when attacks on America were celebrated in the streets of other “radical” countries) is highlighting these jubilant celebrations and even reporting them with elation. Because the person WE killed was EVIL. So OUR celebrations are clearly justified.
How is it that we live in a world where a death, ANY DEATH, is met with anything less than a heavy heart and a celebration of life? Bin Laden’s death should lead us into a period of meditation, prayer, and wondering. Bin Laden’s death could even lead us to celebrate the lives of those who choose every day NOT to kill in the name of a bastardized faith and those who have made many sacrifices for the greater good.
To me, justice is when the people who promote love and peace dominate the news; celebrating the good decries the destructive ambitions of those who choose to live in a world where “might makes right” and where retribution is a means to that end.
We should be ashamed of ourselves. All of us.
Today instead of celebrating a killing, I will instead light a candle for life and love.
For the lives of all are worthy, and a day when a life is taken in the name of protecting the greater good is truly a sad day.