An Opinion – Osama bin Laden

‘He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword’, or so the saying goes. On September the 11th, 2001 an unparalleled incident of terror was launched when a number of commercial jet liners were hijacked, two of which were purposely flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre and two others destined for different targets, also filled with innocent lives. The resultant, tragic and unnecessary loss of nearly three thousand lives is an outrage, a stain against humanity which will forever be etched on the communal mind of mankind. From this point forward, in the minds of most Americans and many in the West, people of Middle Eastern origin and particularly Muslims, were lumped together, metaphorically, with terrorism. Was categorising all Muslims as possible terrorists fair? No, but possibly understandable given the affront of September 11!

From that day forward Al-Qaeda became a synonym for terrorism in the West and its erstwhile leader,  synonymous with all that the West hated. He was feared, reviled, hated and dare I be so bold as to say, had the West’s equivalent of a fatwa placed on him. He was an elusive individual, sighted here and there, always a figure of the shadows!

Well the chickens came home to roost last weekend; 10 years after 20/11, the American government shot him in a raid on a house in Abbottabad north of Islamabad in Pakistan – the ‘fatwa’ was carried out! An elite group of US Special Forces penetrated Pakistani sovereignty, prosecuted their target and then left with the body. Immediately after President Barack Obama’s address to the nation announcing this coup, groups of people were filmed celebrating bin Laden’s death, cavorting, whooping and dancing in the street.

I find this particularly sad and also quite short-sighted but before I get into discussing this, it is as well to be objective and to look at the situation from ‘the other side of the street’ as it were! Believe it or not ‘People of America’ there are other cultures in this world of ours besides yours; your idealism’s, your peculiarly American outlook on life may seem egregious to societies whose religious and cultural mores differ radically from your own – that does not make them anti-social or bent on the destruction of civilised life, it just makes them different.

Yes there are times when, by virtue of your sheer economic and military weight, your help is genuinely needed but some may view this as interference and whether warranted or not, cognisance must be taken thereof. As controversial as the burning of flags and effigies might be and for that matter the recent case of Terry Jones and his Koran burning lunacy, we as society must learn to look through the trees of polemic and try and understand the genuine reason for this mutual tension – and it IS mutual. Only then, perhaps, will the reasons for radicalism be found and thereby peacefully resolved.

Why do I think it sad that segments of society rejoice at the taking of a life, warranted or not? From a Christian and indeed religious perspective, human life is sacrosanct. So when a valid target, once all other avenues are exhausted, is prosecuted there should be a response of sadness at the loss of a life, initiated and created by God. Not a hackneyed rapture, expressed by those who believe that ‘Caesar has come home victorious’ over the barbarian invasion force, as wanton as that feeling may be! And this applies to both sides of the fence!

Any man can take a life
But only God can breathe in
Thus only through the gift of life
May you hope to resemble God [1]

As for the expressions of joy being short-sighted – I believe that this kind of reaction to bin Laden’s death will only motivate greater revenge attacks resulting in an ever increasing spiral of ‘tit-for-tat’ actions! While it is difficult to be humble in victory, that is what man needs to aspire to – not to gloat over the conquered, for that makes him no better than any despot!

[1] Quatrain of Sor Joanna Inés de la Cruz : Lawrence S. Cunningham – Things Seen and Unseen (Page 10): 2010 Sorin Books, Notre Dame

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About Anthony

I am a married Catholic who is interested in Theology, History, Philosophy and the search for truth. I also have a penchant for photography.
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