I awoke a little after midnight on the couch where I had fallen asleep to sounds of cheering in Times Square, and the scene was eerily reminiscent of many of my New Year’s. I watched on the T.V. as Americans rejoiced in our capital and in the city which housed such tragedy near ten years ago, and I felt nothing. Or maybe I felt everything. I went to bed that night not knowing how to feel after learning that we killed Osama Bin Laden, and I spent most of the day yesterday trying to process my thoughts.
I read my share of Facebook status updates rejoicing in the death of one of the most miserable human beings my generation has known and those quoting Martin Luther King, Jr. reminding us to turn from hatred. I read blogs reminding me that this man got what he deserved, and I read articles from pastors urging Christians to respond with love. And I didn’t know what to feel.
Two nights ago, I was proud of our military. What an elite group of men who entered an extremely dangerous situation, lost a helicopter, but didn’t lose one American life! What a group of men who took out the target and then got out–I have such respect for all our military and their bravery.
I was proud of our Commander-In-Chief for allowing the military to do its job, for giving the order to finally get this man who brought such tragedy to our country, who destroyed thousands of lives and disrupted our way of life forever.
But I found myself not able to cheer.
I’d like to say that I felt sadness for a soul who, based on my beliefs, is spending an eternity burning in hell for his deeds. But I don’t. Bin Laden got what he deserved. I can honestly say that while he was alive, I did pray for him–I’m not sure I even believed my own prayers–but I did pray that the miraculous would occur, that he would repent and turn to the God who has grace and love for anyone who would accept it. But now that he has died, this coward who recruited others to kill themselves in order to advance his mission of hate, this man who grabbed and used one of his own wives as a shield in a desperate attempt to save himself; I feel disgust for him. And I feel nothing.
Yet, I am very sad. I know this man mattered to God and was created in His image. What a tragedy of a life wasted, a life that refused to see the value in others, a life who allowed his soul to turn as black as the hell in which he is now residing.
My mind waffles back and forth as I wrestle with my own political beliefs and spiritual instructions. I don’t believe a nation can turn the other cheek when attacked, yet I know a Christian can’t embrace the love of Jesus and rejoice over the death of anyone who lived a life apart from God.
I want to celebrate that the good guys won, but I think of the thousands of lives lost on September 11th and the thousands more in pursuit of justice. I think of the military families who have endured years of separation and those who broke apart under the weight of the burden. I think of a nation divided over Guantanamo Bay and whether or not we should be involved in a War on Terror. And I think of the time I placed my shoes in a bin at airport security and had to check if bottled breast milk could come on board.
I want to cheer for the good guys. I want to celebrate a victory.
But I fear there are no winners–
only a soul who was lost and a way of life that we will never get back.