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Submitted by Lawrence Grecco on Mon, 5/2/2011, 10:59am
When I learned late last night that Osama bin Laden had been killed by a United States special forces operation, I really wasn’t sure how I felt. I wasn’t inspired to go downtown and join the throngs of people celebrating the death of a man who caused so much death and suffering for others.
I didn’t feel much like celebrating anything at the same site where so many people had the worst of possible choices during the final moments of their lives: should I die by jumping out of this window in front of me or just stand here and be burned to death by the approaching fire?
Yet somehow I understood the sense of joy and relief felt by so many people everywhere around the world, and when I was able to locate and touch just a trace of that feeling within myself I had to cringe. Yep, still human.
As practitioners we’re called upon to look more closely at things and consider things not just as isolated and unrelated events, but rather like links on a very long and twisted chain. It’s easy to be fooled by the appearance of things and it’s very tempting and even understandable to want to take some pleasure from what would otherwise be considered a pretty gruesome event. It would be wonderful to consider this the “end of the war or terror” as one political pundit put it on CNN last night. But nothing is simply an “end”; all things are both a result and a cause that lead to other results.
I could view the murder of Osama Bin Laden as the ultimate form of justice. After all, he was responsible for the death of so many people, and his actions contributed to a chain of events that we are all still paying for dearly today: several wars, billions of dollars, increased security at the risk of privacy and freedom, more fear, a sagging economy, record high unemployment and a damaged national spirit.
At the same, our country has contributed to the circumstances and conditions from which Osama bin Laden was able to thrive enough so that he could recruit people who felt so angry at us that they were willing to die in order to harm us.
If we were able to peer into a time machine and look forward several years, would we be rejoicing if we realized that the killing of bin Laden resulted in the reenergizing of Al Quaeda? That his death reignited their mission and fueled their determination more so than ever before?
It’s not “wrong” to take pleasure in bin Laden’s death. I can’t say I’m not happy he’s gone, and I realize there is a chance that this could at least disrupt and possibly even cripple Al Quaeda both organizationally and otherwise, but I can’t be sure. Time will tell as it always does.
Before waving our flags in victory however, it’s useful to consider a few questions:
Do the teachings of interdependence no longer apply when it comes to a person who commits heinous acts?
Are we really separate from Osama bin Laden and the causes and conditions that enabled him to do the things he did?
Does karma have a “beginning” and “ending” point?
What are the possible ramifications of his death?
Do wars and murder really ever lead to peace?
From the Dhammapada:
Hatred can never put an end to hatred;
Love alone can. This is an unalterable law.
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