My Two Cents

I posed the question on facebook: Because something is “right” does that also make it “good?” Discuss with reference to current world news… and people knew straight away that I was talking about the shooting of Osama Bin Laden.

There’s been a great deal of reaction to Bin Laden’s death, but also a reaction to the reaction… and this is what I am interested in.

Let me paint a quick picture for you…

My two year old, “Pumpkin” gets caught playing in the cupboard under the sink. I know that this is where all the dangerous goods live & I know that she shouldn’t be there, so, closing & locking it again, I would send pumpkin to sit in the corner. She knows she wasn’t supposed to be there, she has done something wrong, so she suffers the consequences, which, in turn reinforces that these behaviours are not ones that she wants to repeat.

It is right to punish your child when they do something that you know they shouldn’t do.

But I wouldn’t say it’s “good” to punish children.

It isn’t something that I’d enjoy doing. We love our kids, we care for them & we don’t want to see them go through painful things. If punishing my child was something that I actually ENJOYED, then this would be the kind of behaviour that might lead to having DOCS come & take my kids.

There are a thousand things that we do every day that we know are the right thing to do, but it is not something that we ever enjoy (eating salad!!!)

Was it right to hunt down Osama?

Some commenters to my post had different opinions, but I’m willing to say yes for a couple of reasons.

  1. We anticipate (but can’t guarantee) that the intention was actually to catch him & bring him to trial. Given the violent nature of his life and work, it was never very likely, but if that is what was reported as the intention, I am willing to take believe them. So, we assume, the death was an unavoidable consequence of a violent defence.
  2. Capturing Osama is likely to save many lives. On one side, this highly intelligent man is no longer around to be able to organise terrorist actions. His particular brand of genius has been removed. Additionally, one commentator pointed out that many muslim extremists believed the West’s inability to find/kill him was proof that Osama had Allah’s divine protection, itself a vindication of their cause. This balloon has been popped!
  3. Quite simply, Osama was clearly connected to, and therefore guilty of the deaths of thousands of people throughout the world. Things he didn’t organise himself, he actively supported.

I think these grounds are enough to show that he was deserving of capture and trial (again, assuming that this was the intention… like any police action, if a perpetrator draws a weapon & aims at their captors, they must expect a response…)

One can argue rationally that Osama’s attempted capture and subsequent murder was “right.”

But it doesn’t mean that it was “Good.”

My objection is to those who revel in the news, who celebrate that this life, no matter how ugly to us, has been extinguished. When we celebrate this man’s murder then we cease to be lovers of justice and become simply lovers of retribution, the result of which is not peace, but uniform guilt, as we have succeeded only in committing the same crime as Osama.

Am I glad that Osama was caught? Yes.

Was it right to take whatever measures necessary to ensure that he didn’t escape? I think, yes. If shooting Osama was the result of his brandishing a weapon at his captors, then shooting him was preferable to allowing him to shoot them & then run.

Is it a “good” thing that he is dead? No. I feel it has only been the next step in what could be a loooong tit-for-tat war between two ideologies who fear that the other is seeking to subvert and destroy them. We want Osama to come to justice, but we also want other terrorists to watch & feel that violence is not the answer to their cause. We want to promote the idea that the answer is found in fighting for what is right, in maintaining the moral high ground, in seeking to “be” that change that we want to “see.” If the answer to our problems is to joyfully dispatch them, then we have no reason to expect that our “enemies” will do anything but respond in kind…

I’ll leave you with the three quotes that I’ve enjoyed most over the last two days, speaking to this sad situation.

“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as a manor of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee ” – John Donne

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” – Romans 12:17-19

2 thoughts on “My Two Cents

  1. G’day Tim

    Thanks for the blog, it helped me think about the topic.
    Also I have been thinking where I would go in the Bible to answer the questions asked. I think Romans 12:17-19 is a good answer.

    Cheers James

  2. It seems though that he was unarmed, which brings into question the intention to “bring him in for trial”

    On a more positive note, I see I contributed to your article with the quote from John Donne!

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