Bin Laden has been officially reported captured and killed. Believe what you want about that, the result is the man who represented fear and terror to Americans has been pronounced no more.
And there were celebrations in the street, but not, perhaps, as much as you would have thought.
Martin Luther King Jr said:
“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
While many people question the turn of events because of political timing and particularly in light of the burial at sea, one has to bear in mind that perhaps the burial at sea had to do with respecting Islam in a way that we are not seeing. What would we have done had the body been brought to our shores? How would we have reacted? And to what purposes would his body have been put to use – for propaganda, to promote extremist views from either side. Granted, for some it may have been a proof that would have laid to rest many questions – but one thing I can say with a kind of surety is that the viewing of and presence of his body would have healed no one’s pain.
Grief does not work that way. It is why the families of victims who see the perpetrator executed so often fall apart after – we are told that closure comes from without, through sight and experience, when in fact closure rarely exists at all. There is no “putting things behind us” or “putting things to rest, ” there is only learning to live and to live on with their presence and histories in our bodies. At any given moment, our pain and grief can rise up as if the event that caused it just happened that very second.
Celebrating the death of anyone, even our Hitlers and even our Bin Ladens, creates within us a wound that is vulnerable to infection. It is not a matter of whether or not we are capable of infallible justice – some crimes need no examination to have the criminal condemned – but that we are hardwired – not to protect life – but to remain connected to life, all life. When we chose to kill and celebrate a person’s death, we are messing with a deep intuitive connection to humanity that we all share. We are violating the primary law of our species and this causes one of the greatest trials and sources of despair for humankind for it is a rejection of the notion that we are all one. That on a deep level we share a collective unconscious, that no matter how individual we become, we are always unified with every living soul on this planet. Even the ones who, in their belief that they are right, commit crimes against humanity.
It is a Western trend to misunderstand the nature of balance. The way we bandy about the term it is presented as seeking a stable and static experience in life. Not even an “all good” or “or bad” stasis but an absolute lack of either – a sort of state of non-existence. Balance is not about getting rid of the experience of good and bad or life’s ups and downs, it is about learning that the good and the bad co-exist simultaneously. We go out of balance when we give one prominence over the other.
In every good day, bad things happen. In every bad day, good things happen. But where we put our focus and our energy decides whether we are going to take care of our various wounds and prevent them from being infected or, if we are going to rub dirt and garbage in them, beneath the skin.
It behooves us all to remember that we all bleed the same color. That we all come to believe in things that first and foremost we find because we think they will protect us and justify our presence in life. We seek the validity of presence. We seek meaning.
It would do us all to remember that the meaning of life is within us, in the living. And that all of us, when you break it down, live in the same way. Culture, religion and societies are things we place upon our lives to try to feel like we belong and can find safety in understanding what is around us. It is a tremendously frightening thing to realize that you “do not know” something. It’s why politicians with catchy phrases can hook so many otherwise bright people who, given a second to breathe, would realize they had no plan but we want to be made safe. We want surety. We want not to worry.
But a part of life is worry. Because nothing in life is predictable.
Is there a part of me that is glad Bin Laden is dead? Honestly? No. Knowing what I do about politics and the state of terrorist networks, he and al Qaeda have been a non-entity for years. But in doing what we did and in the way we have done it, we have resurrected him as a martyr and set in motion a whole new set of problems. How big those problems will become remains to be seen.
I am reminded and I am humbled by the memory of Desmond Tutu’s words that “forgiveness means I choose to put down the sword.”
and it is with deep pain that I come to a further understanding of the phrase, “he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.”
Unless forgiven…for only forgiveness will break the cycle of hate.
c.2011. Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.