Bad Day … Good Day?
Good Day … Bad Day?
I am not sure I have ever heard the news “shout” the way I heard it upon my awaking on Monday morning. I was reminded of the cry from the people of Munchkinland in the Wizard of Oz movie that “the wicked witch is dead.” (L. Frank Baum’s book reads differently.) I do not mean that in any sort of caricature-ish way. The Munchkins were jubilant over the news that they had been liberated from tyranny, cruelty, and even evil. Many people, who suffered loss on September 11 and at other times, have expressed similar feelings with the news of the death of Osama bin Laden. Theirs is a grief that is, ultimately, beyond words.
Our President made a difficult decision. No guarantees. If the mission had ended up in two Blackhawks down, Navy SEALs dead, and no sign of bin Laden, he would have been excoriated. I admire that he chose the most direct and surgical of all the options – it mandated direct contact and specific identification. There is no doubt in my mind that these SEALs entered the fray and put themselves at risk seeking a greater safety for all. Their valor is undeniable.
Still … from Monday on I find myself struggling. Our President, on Sunday night said, “Justice has been done.” An act of war was done. An act of proportional response was done – hostile fire met with hostile fire in defense of self and others. Can the action be justified? That argument can be made. Was it justice? No. A sign of our broken humanity? Yes.
If we are bold enough to call ourselves Christian, we must be honest enough to struggle with the truth that violence raised up against violence, be it a fist fight, a firefight, a rumble, a coup, a rebellion or a war, means that humanity has failed to be what God asks and intends us to be.
Is the world safer tonight? No doubt for some it is. Has a Commandment been broken? Yes, and for that we are all in need of repentance. The two realities coexist: neither any less real, any less true.
My struggle, and perhaps yours, is not new. It is akin to the soul-level struggle of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (German Lutheran theologian, scholar and martyr who returned to Germany from a Harvard appointment to resist Hitler) as he contemplated whether a Christian could rightly kill another human being (Hitler) to prevent greater loss of life. The struggle remains.
Many commenting on this event have quoted the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, from Strength to Love, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” He is right, of course, and others are wise to quote him. Let me leave you with a different quote, from Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community, “Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17 (part of the Gospel appointed for Wednesday in Easter 2)