Death of Bin Laden: Not a Time to Celebrate, A Franciscan’s Prayer for Peace
“As a follower of Jesus Christ, I do not celebrate any human being’s violent death. My prayers go out to the entire world tonight. May the fear that has shaped our world in the last decade cease and may peace prevail. No more war. No more violence,” my Facebook status reads tonight.
On one hand, this news is something that is being lauded on many fronts. NBC Middle East correspondent Richard Engel congratulated the U.S. Special Forces troops that killed Osama Bin Laden and retrieved his lifeless body. It is news that is being hailed as triumphant and celebratory. And I can understand that. As a citizen of the United States, I can appreciate the ways in which the distorted religious and political views of this deceased man have irrevocably changed the landscape of our society.
Yet, I am a Christian. I cannot take joy, regardless of how much I am tempted to be swept up in the celebratory fervor of my fellow citizens, in the death of my brother in our human family. Yes, Osama Bin Laden committed some horrible, terrible things and led a movement that cannot be supported in any form. Nevertheless, he was a child of God no less than your neighbor, son, daughter or self.
Let us not forget that in addition to the more-than 3,000 people who have died on September 11, 2001, many thousands of more have died since that time here and abroad. More people will also die. And every human death, before its natural end, is a tragedy.
If we proclaim to be “prolife” and value the inherent dignity of every human being from conception to natural death, then we must temper our desire to gloat about the death of one man with the reality that any person’s violent and premature death is something to lament. No person’s death is an occasion to celebrate.
So, while many — perhaps most — of the United States will be celebrating this news, let all Christians, all Muslims, all Jews, all believers and non-believers — All members of the human family — pause and take this moment as an opportunity to say “never again!”
Never again to violence. Never again to fear. Never again to terrorism and the loss of lives in violent death, no matter who those people are.
May all find peace tonight.