At risk of getting flamed on my own blog, which is always fun, I’m not “overjoyed” or celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden.

You’ll note I’m not saying he didn’t deserve to die, or we shouldn’t have killed him. I’m not the one who made that decision, but I suspect it was the right one.

I’m saying, I can’t cheer the death of another human being. Especially if Satan is warming up the barbecue right now in welcome, I can’t find celebration in that. The best I can muster up is “It’s a shame this man became so evil as to make his death a necessity.”

I don’t doubt the man was evil. Maybe in his own mind he started out with good intentions, but pushing an agenda of death is not the kind of thing a human heart gets behind without first killing its own conscience.

Now this morning I dropped off kids at the school bus, dropped off the cat at the vet for a test, swung by the town hall to vote (and voted for the candidate who spelled my name correctly on the political post-card) and by coincidence I finished at just the time for daily Mass, so I went to the church. And after Communion, it occurred to me that although bin Laden was evil at the end, he wasn’t born evil, wasn’t created evil, so his loss is in that respect a tragedy.

Paul the evangelist–he started off by persecuting people too, and God turned him around. Maybe God let bin Laden have that extra ten years because he might have turned it around. He might have recognized his own evil and rejected it.

And had I prayed for bin Laden’s conversion,  in all that time? No.

In the prayer after Communion, the priest read a line about producing eternal fruit. A soul would be eternal fruit. Praying for a soul so it makes that first stretch toward God would be eternal fruit. And again, how often do I do that, rather than just praying for this person’s physical healing or this person’s need of a job and that other individual’s safety during an environmental catastrophe?

That’s when it occurred to me, this guy might have deserved death, but also, maybe I’m doing it all wrong too.


  1. Scott

    Now that the deed is done, I hope we just stop talking about him. The more we do, the more he is idealized and becomes a martyr to his cause. Obama should not be touting this as his accomplishment. He should announce what was done and we should move on without fanfare.

    There are definitely people that feel that justice needed to be done, but I personally don’t feel safer after hearing the news.

    1. philangelus

      My hope is that the organization divides into factions with no clear successor. Since these are guys who don’t mind killing in order to get what they want, they might in-fight enough that there will be relay seizures of power for the next five years, and they’ll leave the rest of us alone. That would be nice, and in line with human nature, no?

  2. MNdragonlady

    No flames here, but similar musings. I heard someone else say something like this earlier today on the radio. And it got me thinking: how many of us didn’t/don’t think about the souls of our enemies? Do we forget what a mighty God we serve? Why couldn’t He change the heart of a man like that? When did I start seeing God as so small? So sobering on a day like today. Maybe that command about praying for our enemies isn’t so much about them as it is about us and our own understanding of God. Hmmm…

    1. philangelus

      See, I never really thought of bin Laden as “my enemy.” He’d just as soon see me dead as anyone else, but it was so far removed from me personally that I never felt threatened or “enemied.” He was just another unreasoning force out there in the world that could cause harm, like hurricanes or earthquakes.

      1. MNdragonlady

        Yeah, I can see that. I guess for me, my husband was active duty on 9/11, so it was more personal. My neighborhood was basically under lock-down, with security personnel checking my vehicle regularly when I returned home. Whether or not bin Laden personally was going to be my enemy, he was certainly a leader in the group that I considered my enemy. And his actions were affecting my daily life. Hence, he was my enemy. And I wish I had prayed for him. I’m grateful we do not have to worry about him anymore, but I can’t “cheer” either. May God have mercy on those who are left to take bin Laden’s place – that they may see the light and turn to Him instead.

  3. Wyldkat

    Flame? Not likely.

    I was watching some footage of people pouring out into the streets to “celebrate” and it reminded me of the “celebrations” on 11, Sept 2001 in the Middle East. It brought me up cold. We not so different, are we?

    I don’t know how to explain the chaos of emotions in my mind. Pleased that the person who supposedly was responsible for thousands of deaths; appalled at the “celebrating”; worried that the reaction/fallout maybe one we are not ready for; like you, wondering why it took so long; torn.

    1. philangelus

      Torn is a good description, yeah.

      I didn’t realize people had taken to the streets to celebrate. That’s flinch-worthy. 🙁

  4. cricketB

    My question is, what now?

    Now the head is off the dragon, can bring all the forces home? What about his lieutenants? Is it worse to leave a child knowing nothing better, or to educate her and promise a better life, then leave just as she starts to dream?

    I will pray for his soul, but I will continue to pray for the rest of the people involved as well.

    1. philangelus

      I think it’s good to pray for the victims he’s leaving behind.

      I don’t know what impact this has militarily. TIme will tell.

  5. Monica

    It’s a good thing to know that a murderer will not be able to murder again. But beyond that, his legacy is such a sad one that this day just brings all that sadness to mind.

    1. philangelus

      I was thinking about that — he clearly had some charisma, so what if he’d applied himself to works of charity, or to rousing all these restless young men and giving them vision of a world where they were helping others not by killing but by organizing a three-pronged attack on poverty? Or on ignorance? What if bin Laden had said, “God wants us to make sure every community on Earth has a source of clean water!”

      He had to have some degree of talent to organize his group, and he was ambitious, and he could convince people to work with him. So why for death and terror? In all of Islam, couldn’t he have found other ways to fulfill what he perceived to be the will of God?

  6. crescentgaia

    There’s a Mark Twain quote that’s been going in and out of my head since I heard the news. It’s “I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure”. I don’t take pleasure at the fact that he’s dead. I wish that he had been taken alive and made to sit for his crimes before a war tribunal. That would make me feel a bit better.

    I am glad that, in all these news reports, there’s talk that his body was treated respectfully and in the traditions of his faith. Also, he’s been buried at sea but we’re not sure where at sea. Maybe it is better this way. Only our Deity really knows.

    1. philangelus

      That quote has been coming up on Twitter a lot today too. And yeah, if he’d been made to account for his crimes in a public forum, he might have taken stock of what he did rather than rested on the idea that he was right and noble and doing the work of God.

      I’m glad he was buried in accord with Muslim standards. At the very least, we won’t be accused of violating *that* (although it’s kind of ironic: we killed him, but we respected his wishes with regard to burial.)

  7. Laura

    Thank you for your insight. I never thought of it like that. My first thought is to go, well, no he doesn’t deserve our prayers! Look at all the horrible things he has done! But then I realize he probably needs our prayers (for his soul)… well, not more than anyone else but certainly as much as anyone else.

    1. philangelus

      If not now, then certainly before he died.

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  9. Colleen

    Well said. I struggled with my emotions and finally just came to the realization that I need to pray.