I’ve been asked about this directly by at least two people. While I usually love to share my opinions, I will admit I’ve been left a bit speechless by this one. It’s taken me awhile to be able to say anything. I don’t have a lot figured out yet, but I think I’m beginning to understand a few things.
I understand that Osama bin Laden was responsible—directly and indirectly—for the deaths of thousands of people.
I understand the need to stop him from organizing further terrorist attacks; the need to silence a voice that was inciting so many to violence.
I understand that numerous problems and dangers would have arisen if he had been captured alive and held in a prison somewhere.
I also understand that those people killed by Al Qaeda on 9/11—and in so many places around the world—are still dead.
I understand that bin Laden is likely as much of a motivating force dead as he was alive.
I understand that murder should always be an absolute last resort, and so the use of violence in this way indicates a tragic failure of imagination; a failure to see and implement a better, more human way of addressing problems.
I understand that such a failure on our part should not lead to rejoicing in the streets. It should not lead to nationalistic pride. It should not lead to gloating.
I understand that we live in a deeply broken world where violence begets violence; where fear often overpowers our best selves; where our vision is limited and thus the choices we consider are also limited.
I understand that the cross is real.
I also understand that the cross is not the last word.
Let us mourn all deaths. And more, let us mourn our human capacity for hatred and violence.
Let us rest in the promise of the resurrection: peace will overcome violence; love will overcome hate; life will overcome death.
In the meantime, Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us all. Amen.