Me and Osama

There is a good chance I am going to offend you here. Just lettin’ you know.

A friend of mine noted today that I was conspicuously absent from the rash of comments on the Bin Laden raid and his subsequent death. He was right, I was absent. It’s not for lack of passion or patriotism, and it’s not that I don’t remember, vividly, that September morning. I do and I am and I have. It’s just that I wanted to respond correctly and know what my feelings meant, and I wanted any statement I made to not only reflect Jason Jones but also Jesus Christ who is the author of my identity.  I still don’t know that I can contain such a complex subject in 500-1,000 words but well, I guess we will find out.

Justice. Do I think justice was done? Well, certainly, and justice should always be celebrated. Believe me, I am rather too hawkish in my outlook about such matters.  Osama Bin Laden led an organization that was responsible for the deaths of innocents the world over and the mastermind of the most heinous attack directed against our homeland from a foreign power in our history. Believe me when I say I believe in justice, in fact, here’s a little Toby Keith with my outlook on the whole idea of justice.

That being said, justice is an impossible dream. How many escape justice everyday? How many children are abused and no one pays? How many husbands beat their wives and no one knows? What about the human trafficking problem? What about the drug trade? What about….pick something, it’s not hard. Tolkien said that many deserve to die that live and many deserve life that die and we can’t change it. I’m glad that justice was done, but don’t ask me to celebrate; don’t ask me not to mourn the darkness around me.  So much has to be done and the death of one guilty man changes very little, politically or spiritually.

Vengeance.  That would be my next thought. I love justice. I am not a pacifist. I find, however, within my faith that I cannot be married to violence and revenge. Justice is a sad matter as we all look deep into the darkness wrought by the human spirit left to its own devices. I remember twenty years ago when(this link is pretty dark) Ted Bundy was on the national watch list as we awaited his execution. The Dairy Queen in the town where I was working lit up their marquis with this electrifying message: Free Fries if Bundy Fries!  I felt part of myself exult in the victory over evil, and then the sadness came. Not because Ted Bundy was worthy of my grief, he wasn’t, but because all of our darkness is worthy of grief. Our society creates the darkness and some twisted individuals make evil choices that make the darkness worse.

Anyway, the point is, people weren’t celebrating justice  when Bundy was killed, they were celebrating payback. Now Yahweh proclaims in The Book, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay” and Jesus taught that we are to love our enemies and forgive them. This idea of non-judgement is central to the New Testament for two reasons. One is because we simply can’t know what is in another persons heart. Maybe Osama Bin Laden was a twisted sociopath, I certainly think signs point to that. Maybe he just chose to do evil because he was that selfish. Maybe he really thought he was a hero of his faith and people. I don’t know. And to be honest, justice doesn’t care what he thought. Justice is concerned with actions, there are some things you just don’t do. But my heart, and yours, must remain clean and clear of revenge because vengeance and judgement breed hatred and bitterness which bring on the acts that continue the cycle of evil in our lives. My fear has been, this week, that very little celebrating has been done in the name of justice and much jubilation has in fact surrounded vengeance.

The second reason for non-judgment, and here we get controversial, is because of the darkness within me.

When I look at any person who commits any evil act I have to look at myself and ask, “Am I capable of that evil?” The truth is, we must be.

Does that offend you?

The truth about sin as taught by Christ is that the fruit that we see and call sin or evil comes from a root and seed that we do not see. Those simple inner sins, mostly attitudes, lead to dark fruit. Most of us are disciplined enough, or scared enough of consequences that we don’t act on those seeds; we don’t allow them to come to full blossom in our lives. But some of us do. That’s why Jesus can say in the Sermon on the Mount that if you harbor angry hatred toward your brother in your heart, you have committed murder and stand in danger of judgement. That’s why he can say lust and adultery are the same thing.  If I am full of hatred about anything I can be full of hatred about everything. If hatred leads to murder then anyone who hates is capable of murder. If you are capable of one murder, you are capable of millions.  It’s like the story of the banker who met a beautiful girl in a bar and ask if she would have sex with him. She demurred but he persisted and ask if she would consider having sex with him for $100,000 dollars? He was desperate you see. She stopped, dropped her chin, batted her eyelashes and said with a grin she would have to consider it. He then asked her if she would do this deed for $25! She became insanely angry! “What kind of girl do you think I am?” she asked.

“We already determined what you are,” the banker replied, “Now we’re just negotiating a price.”

I realize that’s kind of harsh but it perfectly illustrates the point.  The darkness within us is the same. I have to believe I am capable of terrorism. I despise the idea, and my knowledge of my own evil helps me keep it at bay, but it’s still there, inside me, with every good thing I do. (Looks like I won’t get in under a thousand words! Almost done.) Now when I look at Osama Bin Laden I realize that in his pathetic choices that led to this great justice, he gave in to the same darkness that dwells within me. Now I can have empathy and love for an enemy whose family and followers are grieving for him, even if I don’t understand how they could not have seen him for what he was. They just saw him as an answer for their frustration and darkness, an inspiration, a husband, a father, a refugee.

Therefore I have remained, until now, silent.

Congratulations to Seal Team 6 on a job well done. We will always need warriors to protect our walls. Justice was done.

Time to contemplate what would be justice in my own life. I suggest you do the same, but remember, God has loved us with an everlasting love. He remembers that we are but dust.

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5 thoughts on “Me and Osama

  1. You have given solid words to what I have been feeling and thinking since the first news bulletin appeared.

    I have been pained by the voiced hatred I have read on facebook almost immediately after the news was given.

    Thank you for your eloquence.

  2. You have written what many of us have been discussing.
    Our hearts were heavy as we watched many celebrate and we could not speak our emotions. How can we possibly celebrate eternal darkness for anyone?

  3. Thank you, Jason, for giving words to the conflicted feelings I have been experiencing. Another thought occurs to me, too. I was so very distressed when I saw young Muslims celebrating in the streets after 9-11. To celebrate now seems to lower ourselves to their level. So I am not celebrating the death of Osama bin Ladin, but neither am I grieving.

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