Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Proper Decorum

There were two blog entries last week, but neither touched on the big issue of the day - the death by unnatural causes of Osama bin Laden. As the week progressed, some raised the question as to how we, as a nation, should take this news. I think that's a worthy question, because the option to literally dance in the streets over something in the news doesn't come along too often, even including the years when your favorite team conquers the entire world.
I even think it's worth considering whether believers, who often try to set the behavior bar a bit higher, should react differently from those who attend funerals to hear bawdy stories about the deceased and ignore the minister.
As for the end of OBL, it's pretty hard to imagine that there wouldn't be dancing, singing, drinking, congratulating and overblown claims of "justice", as if some are so evil that our only defense is to lock and load. Yes, the president himself referred to "justice", but tried to straddle the line a bit by avoiding the celebrations except to meet with and thank the military for their role. He knows we're stuck with some kind of terror threat for the forseeable future and doesn't want to give the next generation of scary guys the visual of something like the "Mission Accomplished" banner. Even the disposal of bin Laden's remains at sea was meant to provoke as little anger as possible while also denying radicals the chance to mourn together. It was done, I read, with the intent of showing the world's billion plus Muslims that, NO, the U.S. is not at war with Islam. It certainly won't work with everyone, but it shows forethought, and was done with little extra expense.
But I digress. Does scripture offer to believers any model regarding the death of a perceived villain? David's reaction to the death of his old persecutor Saul was genuine sadness, but most recorded deaths in scripture have little detail of the reaction. Moses slays the Egyptian, Samuel the prophet dismembers a king taken prisoner in battle, the entire tribe of Benjamin is almost annihilated by the other eleven tribes, Joshua is commanded to clear the land of Canaan of all non-Israelites by any means necessary and even Peter in the New Testament pulls the plug on a couple who had withheld assets from the church, then lied about it. A man is zapped instantly for attempting to steady the Ark of the Covenant without the proper authority. David is celebrated to this day as a military leader. The dead in all these cases get little or no remembrance.
Of course, planning and carrying out the 9/11 attacks was horrific, and there's no sign of OBL ever having regrets. Still, the man had a (pretty big) family. In some ways he came across as a modern day John Brown, our native terrorist. I guess I have no real reason to expect the future to be less violent than the recent past, but finally let me say that I have some sympathy for the family he left, and wish for some happiness for the innocent.


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