Monday, May 2, 2011

Revenge or justice?

Proverbs 24:17: "Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice."

The first thing I heard when I turned my radio on this morning was that Osama Bin Laden was killed. I was shocked. I wasn't really sure how I felt. My students asked me what I thought and I didn't have much of an answer. I haven't really had time to process it until now.

So here it is: I am sad. Let me clarify. I know that Bin Laden and his followers caused many deaths and great destruction. My heart aches for all of those who have died or lost loved ones because of radical ideology, Muslim or otherwise. My heart aches for those who have died, lost loved ones, or been separated from loved ones in faraway wars.

I think I grieve most today, however, for the sheer joy, exhilaration, revelry I see people expressing over someone's death. Ding dong the witch is dead! Let's party! That is the vibe I am getting, but it is not the one I feel.

Maybe I would feel differently if I had a closer personal connection to the violence in our world. I don’t know. But what I feel currently is heaviness of heart. I am reminded today that too often in our world, we use the word justice when we really mean revenge. These are two very different concepts, but we often use them interchangeably. With Bin Laden's death, revenge was accomplished. We got back at him. But won't some people want revenge for his death now? Will his death bring an end to some of the suffering in our world? I am doubtful.

Justice is about bringing our world into greater harmony. When people are excited about death (anyone's death) and destruction, we are surely not in a place of harmony. Was justice accomplished? Again, I am doubtful.

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