Friday, May 6, 2011

bin Laden

I suppose that everyone must have something to say about the recent demise of Osama bin Laden. I say must have, for it seems a moral obligation. Here is a man who had an effect on the whole world. Not like Gandhi, mind you. Not like Buddha or Jesus or Mohammed. No, more like Adolph Hitler, more like Joseph Stalin, more like Pontius Pilate and Judas Iscariot. Here is a man who started out by betraying God, anyone’s God, along with all things decent when he conceived and ordered the murder of more than 3000 innocent men, women and children in New York City, and now he has ended up dead, his own victim, nothing more.

Is there a question here? Is there a decent person who, possessing the most fundamental ingredient of moral sense, would object to this self-inflicted death, or call it unfair, or call it (God forbid) unfortunate?

No, there is no pathos here, no martyrdom. There is only one sad little man who went astray from the community of man and the house of God.

Human beings possess an innate sense of right and wrong, just the same as they possess a nose and a navel. If later in life we murder our fellow man in the name of religion or politics or greed or power, we have departed from the moral sense with which we were born.  If we reduce another human being to an idea, to an object, to a target, we insult God Himself, in whose image that human being had been made.

Was Osama bin Laden a Muslim? No. I know Muslims--many of them--and I find them to be much like myself. They are people--fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters--partaking together in the joy and in the struggle that is life on planet earth. We want to love and be loved, to thrive, to eat, to seek friendship and community. We are simply doing our best. We are just trying to get through life. Who then is the man who decides to murder his fellow--that same fellow who is helping to row the same communal ark of this journey through life? How far away has this man had to remove himself from reality to arrive at the point where he can conceive of individual human beings as nothing more than pawns in an ideological and altogether inhuman warfare?

There is no question. Right is right, wrong is wrong. Love breeds understanding. Hate breeds death.

An infected part has been removed for the benefit of the integrity and health of the whole body.

And now some of us are worried about a proper burial for this cancerous tissue. You’re kidding, right?


Once upon a time there was a man named William Calley. He was a lieutenant in the United States army during the Vietnam War. Lieutenant Calley decided one day to massacre scores of innocent men, women and children at a place called My Lai. In his mind he had reduced them to lumps of mud. Without compassion, without pity, without humanity, he ordered the murder of these people. Men, women, brothers, sisters, children, toddlers, teens, infants. They were the enemy.

I ask you now, does anyone care over-much about the procedure that will attend Lieutenant Calley’s burial? Does anyone care about the manner in which Adolph Hitler was buried?

How about the burial of 3000 people in the State of New York? Does anyone care?

If you type in the name William Calley on Google, you will come up with the story of the My Lai massacre. If you type in Hitler, you will come up with the murder of 6 million Jews. If you type in bin Laden, you will come up with the cold blooded murders of 9/11. History tells the story in the end, and the extremist hype of the day cannot hide long from the essential truths that peaceful men and women will always share.

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