Like so many of you, I watched in horrified fascination as the Twin Towers were maimed and finally toppled, killing and injuring thousands of people and terrifying a nation. I also watched our president, almost ten years later, report that the man responsible for that action had been shot and killed in a raid on a compound outside of Islamabad, Pakistan. The President’s demeanor was appropriately somber and yet had hints of the triumphant. So many cliche`s come to mind:
Serves ‘im right.
An eye for an eye….
You reap what you sow.
Justice is done.
He got what he deserved.
Hooray, Hooray it’s the First of May…etc.
I’m conflicted. As I watched the people gathering in front of the White House last night, I understood the relief they exhibited. I realized I didn’t want to understand the celebration.
On the one hand, the man was a terrorist, a murderer and a complete wacko. On the other hand, he was a human being- with all the dignity and flaws imbued thereof, and completely worth saving. Did he love? Did he show any kindness to another person? Probably.
Could he have repented for his actions? Would he?
We’ll never know.
This is not to impugn the sense of justice felt here- this man was directly responsible for the murder of thousands of fellow human beings. But if I rejoice in his death, if I celebrate it, am I giving up on the goodness of humanity I so profoundly believe in? Am I substituting revenge for justice? Is patriotism predicated on the murder of enemies? Is this the easy way out? Have I become the terrorist who has lost sight of the humanity of the people I kill?
Probably unpopular things to ask, but still, these questions haunt me.
Do they haunt anyone else?