02 May 2011

I'm Happy He's Dead: Murky Morality

I was writing the post tonight, and Two came in and told me that Osama Bin Laden is dead.
"Says who?" I asked.
"All my friends on facebook. And CNN."
At least he had the smarts to check a reliable source.
I stopped writing about my post-conference crash, and went to turn on the television. It's late, but we're waiting to hear what the president has to say.

Three had civil rights concerns.
"Isn't it illegal to shoot him if he's unarmed? Aren't we supposed to take him to a court of law?"
I found myself in the odd position of defending our nation's right to hunt down a man and kill him.
"Nope," I answered firmly. "He's an enemy combatant. We've been actively trying to kill him for ten years."
Surely this goes against Christian teaching.

This is a murky area for me as a mother. I spend a large part of my day teaching the pack problem-solving skills, to help them avoid physical violence. I am giving them a more comprehensive religious education than I ever had as a child. I actively encourage forgiveness.

But I am happily awaiting confirmation of that man's death.

I think it is right that I will sit with Two and Three on the couch, and feel satisfaction. Today's news will help them, and me, remember that evil is a tangible foe, not to be overlooked or forgotten in the details of our daily lives.

There is a famous quote: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
Do you agree?


  1. Anonymous2.5.11

    My news-hound daughter has been burning up the interwebs (and FaceBook) since the story broke, so we are well informed around here. When good people do nothing, badness happens. You are teaching those boys the best life lessons of all, stay aware, pay attention, and talk about shit!
    (P.S. I had barely placed my ass in my desk chair tonight when Dan says, "have you seen Megan's picture from the conference yet?" Well, alrighty then! We know who he follows, now don't we?!)

  2. Anonymous2.5.11

    My dad taught me that quote when I was a kid and now whenever I think of turning a blind eye, or not saying anything when I see something wrong, I remember that quote, it really is true.
    I was happy when I heard about his death on the radio, I think someone that has cause that much pain and suffering is a bit beyond forgiveness.

  3. @Julie: Dan follows Megan because he saw how pretty she is in her pictures.

    I, too, wrote a post about tonight; I imagine many people did. This is moral gray area, but it's also part of America's military strategy. It is not uncommon to at least try to assassinate a terrorist leader. It's why military units of various countries train snipers; they certainly don't train them to shoot deer.

    As for teaching children, I commend you. Teaching something that goes outside of their ethics teaching has got to be tough. I guess like Miss Kris above, some people are beyond forgiveness, but even worse, someone that evil and committed to causing pain and suffering and terror is not going to stop just because he is in prison. He is a diseased limb on the tree of humanity and he is slowly going to poison the tree. He had to be removed for the trea to return to health.

  4. @Julie: I was so excited the other day when Dan commented on my FB page! When I was in Salem, Delia's Magnum sent condolences on my inability to drink coffee, and I was genuinely touched. I know they only follow the blog because of the fabulous women in their lives!

  5. My children are too young to understand this. They're also too young to understand why they're father's gone for a year. And why we have a framed picture of the World Trade Center on our living room wall. They're too young to understand because of 9/11 they are missing an uncle.

    I am a big "Violence solves nothing and only makes things worse" person. But I know that this offered closure to my husband and his family that they never thought they would have. And though I believe violence is never a good answer, when considering that he orchestrated such a large attack on civilians, I'm not sure there is a good answer.

    So for now I'm praying. I'm praying that this was the right thing. That this will not be like cutting the head off a hydra. I'm praying for a measure of peace for everyone who lost a measure of peace on 9/11, and a measure of peace for the world. And I'm praying like crazy for the safety of the men and women to the right and left of Sean as they continue their missions and service.

  6. Ugh. That didn't really answer your question AND there are typos.

    Stupid emotions.

  7. @Sarah: The question was open-ended, and I didn't notice the typos because of the emotion. I think the fact that we struggle with the question shows we have moral guidelines. Obviously, bin Laden had no issue with murder, so the fact that I struggled with what to tell my seven year old this morning is a good thing.
    His older brother was telling me some details, and Five asked who we were talking about. One said, "An evil man who killed a lot of people."
    Five asked, "Like H-i-t-l-e-r?"

    Somewhere along the way, Five learned about Hitler, and he's become such a symbol of evil incarnate that he won't say his name out loud. One answered his question before I could.
    "Yes, he was crazy, like Hitler." And that was the end of the discussion.

    Thank you for sharing your story. We join you in prayer for the safety of your Sean, and the continued healing of your family.

  8. Like Five, I use the Hitler defense for this but I am a stew of mixed feelings over the whole issue. I did not want for this individual's malevolent organization and plans to continue...but the death of one man is not the end of an organization that will likely go batshit crazy as a result of the assassination (batshit craziER?). Also, I feel icky rejoicing over someone's death.

    I acknowledge the necessity. But I don't think it exactly solved the terrorism problems of the world so why is everyone so PROUD of themselves when it is similar to the mob ecstasy of bin laden's followers when they burn our presidents in effigy?

  9. What Sarah said. (And prayers comin' atcha for your husband and family, Sarah). My emotions are mixed on this. I don't like anyone to be killed, but I don't think the result would have been any different had he gone to trial. From a military perspective, I think it was important to show that our intelligence networks are, in fact, productive and that our persistence in this matter is not to be doubted regardless of who is in office. Also, the man himself may have been unarmed at the time, but I guarantee there were armed people surrounding him, which amounts to the same. From a human perspective, I hate that anyone was killed.

    Do I think it did any good? Yes and no. No, because he will now be considered a martyr by other extremists and I think they'll recieve at least a short-term spike in motivation from his death. Yes, because bin Laden was, by all accounts, a charasmatic individual. One person with charisma can often accomplish what an entire mob cannot. It was his talks and teachings that were recruiting and keeping new people. Without that, I hope there will be a gradual decline in enlistment. Whether that hope is warranted or not remains to be seen.

    That's all I've got. (And aren't you glad? This was turning into a book.)

  10. I posted this morning that I'm having a hard time processing the events of this weekend. And, I am. Thoughts are spinning in my head, out of order, out of context, out of nowhere.

    (Full disclosure for the unaware: I'm Sarah's sister, so thoughts about Sean and Sarah and his mom and sister have been a constant buzz in my head since our mother texted me to tell me to turn on the news last night.)

    I do think that good people need to stand up to injustice, but I think we need to remember that all actions have consequences--even actions that seem righteous. I think it's right and appropriate and moral and civilized that so many of us hesitate to celebrate a man's death even while we feel relief or closure or vindication.

    Perhaps the test of a appropriate actions isn't whether they have no consequences but whether you can bear those consequences with honor.

  11. @ Carrie - Extremely well-said. Thank you so much for posting that. I agree completely, but I couldn't have said it half as well.

  12. Anonymous2.5.11

    I'm with Janet...that was beautifully put, Carrie!

  13. Thanks, ladies. On a slightly lighter note, I think bearing those consequences is what causes our leaders' hair to gray so quickly. ;)


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