Monday, May 2, 2011

On the death of Osama bin Laden

I'm not exactly sure how I feel about it yet--it's a real mix of feelings, that's for sure--but I sure know I don't like being told how I ought to feel.

I have to admit, it got all up in my grill that one of the first reactions on one of the Episcopal blogs I follow was to be asked "How Christians should react." What does "should" have to do with anything? People are going to have a wide variety of reactions because, you know, they're people.

It finally occurred to me this morning that how I think Christians should react is to say "This is how I feel about it. How do you feel about it?" and listen. Of course, ironically, this is to tell other people how they ought to react. So I'm in a bit of a bind, here. Lizz Winstead said it better on Twitter: "Hey everyone. Feel how you feel today and express that in the way you see fit but don't tell ME how to react. Carry on."

I think I'm reacting more strongly to the "should" than to the actual event because I fear it keeps us from expressing and exploring our feelings--and thus prevents us from talking to anyone who we disagree with or opening ourselves up to the possibility of a larger perspective. Lots of people I've seen have mentioned the proverb "Do not rejoice when your enemies fall, and do not let your heart be glad when they stumble." I haven't seen anyone mention Purim. And I'm also reminded that when soldiers asked Jesus what they should do, he didn't say, "Stop being a soldier."

I just think there's lots of room in religious experience for a variety of reactions. I hope there is room for mine.

One thing I do know is that I am very glad not to be president, or in the military, or in intelligence. I feel I have been spared many a moral quandary. It's so much easier to be ethical when I'm not faced with any high level ethical decisions. DO you feel about the death of Osama bin Laden?


Lorin said...

Weird. I'm happy he's dead but it doesn't feel right to get all woo-hoo! we killed people!

it's margaret said...

I am extremely sad over the gloating some seem to have.... mostly young, white men. If they are that passionate about it all, they should sign up and go to war or something....

I am very uncomfortable with the flags and the chants.... and the violence and the force.... it will only continue the cycle of violence.

When, where will it end?

firma de contabilitate said...

In my opinion they should arrest Osama, not to kill him. With his dead anything will change, because the terrorists are there. Only one of them is dead. I think that it was harder from him to be arrested.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if peoples' feelings will have something to do with the context in which they heard the news? I found out Tuesday morning when I went to get a morning coffee and work on the internet at my local cafe - I saw the headline on the paper, I was stunned, I wondered if it might mean the war would be over, I wept.

I didn't have a chance to talk to anyone about it all day, but when I got to a church dinner that evening the conversation was already in full swing. Like you, I guess, I felt that I was getting a clear message about how I was supposed to feel - sorrowful, subdued, worried about how any American rejoicing would look to the world - and I can't say I reacted well.

Now, though, I think I would likely have had more sympathy for my fellow diners' positions if I had heard the news on the news, if I had seen the footage of folks in front of the White House, if I had had the experience of watching people engage in mass behaviors that are so alien to my own.

You have asked us how we feel about the death of Osama bin Laden. I'd be curious to know more about how different people heard about it to begin with, and whether or not they think that has had a hand in shaping how they feel.

LKT said...

Yes, context makes such a difference. Not only the context of when you heard it, but your experience of 9/11, of the military...on and on.

I watched Jon Stewart last night and appreciated his comments that he was too close to this still. It's very different for me, but I am acutely aware of the wide range of feelings in the aftermath of the killing of bin Laden.

Thank you all for being honest about your experiences. I hope this is a safe space.