A College Kid’s plea on the death of Osama Bin Laden

Growing up in the post September 11th world I cannot really recall living in a time when travel was easy, security was limited and the American people seemed unafraid. My entire youth has been characterized with the constant notion that evil was somewhere out there, taken human form in Osama Bin Laden. With his recent death comes a series of questions about the future of the War on Terror, and rightly so. What does this mean for Al-Qaeda? Will this provoke more attacks against the U.S.? Will this lead to a safer, more peaceful world? I believe that such questions are limiting and a deeper question must be analyzed.

I personally have been having some problems matching my prevailing sense of joy with my uncomfortable feelings on death. I guess it’s hard for me to “celebrate” a man’s death and somehow balance my own personal Christian convictions. According to my religion, I am constantly reminded to “turn the other cheek”, “Love thy enemy” and always choose the dignity of human life. Pope Benedict reminds us that evil is present in our world and that hell exists and is an option for those who willingly turn against God’s love. I suppose it’s my sincere hope that in the last moments of Osama Bin Laden’s life he made a decision to accept love and realize that his actions were crimes against humanity. Justice and judgment are not in my hands however, I again suppose, that they are in God’s.

I continue to be bombarded with news telling me that he may have been wielding a weapon and using his wife as a human shield. Rightly, such news naturally tugs at the heartstrings, making it more difficult to find compassion for the man while trying to take away any apprehension I may have about celebrating his death. Many have taken to the streets in celebration and many others have chosen to chastise those who seemingly “celebrate” the death. Such a decision begs further self-analysis and a small plea to America on my part.

While I do not celebrate yet another death in a seemingly endless war, I do, very willingly celebrate what it represents. I am not ignorant enough to believe that this is the end of Al Qaeda and our war on Terror. For my generation this is our Berlin Wall: the tearing down of years of fear, giving way to the light of peace and human advancement. Many Americans will believe that Bin Laden deserved to die as retribution for his crimes. But before we cling to such a belief let us remember our inherently American virtues.

It is our role to celebrate an end to the embodiment of terror, the unseating of vicious mastermind and the further disabling of a group that partakes in unprovoked murder. Celebrating the death of one-man limits us in our truly American pursuits of peace, dignity and equality and gives Osama Bin Laden an undeserved role of importance in the greater pursuit of peace. Let us celebrate the triumph of freedom of tyranny and good over evil. Celebrating such things would embody the true spirit of America: the very spirit terrorists unsuccessfully attempted to destroy on a cold September morning almost ten years ago. 

John McCarthy
Keansburg, NJ