There is no shortage of blogs, newspaper articles, radio or television programming about Osama Bin Laden today. I am certain my one little blog will be totally ignored but I feel compelled to write about him anyway.
I was slightly turned off with all the shouts of joy, the dancing, and the flag wearing of people all over the United States and probably much of the world. People gathered and showed their ecstasy at the news that Bin Ladin was dead.
It bothered me that I could not muster the same joyful response as so many people were showing. It reminded me of the frenzy which occurs with the playing of the Super Bowl. I was troubled by thinking maybe there is something wrong with me when his death has made so many people happy. Why can’t I feel happy too?
Before leaving my house this morning, I checked the messages on Facebook and discovered ONE message from a former student of mine who echoed my sentiments. I really felt a connection to her.
This is what she posted this morning:
The only death in this world I am comfortable celebrating is the death of Jesus; while I support my country &, especially our troops, it’s still tragic that it ever had to come to the point that Americans would so gleefully celebrate the death of another human being.
Upon reading that, I responded, “Well put. I do not sense any joy in my heart over this. I fear Bin Ladin’s work is not over. Revenge and vengeance are double edged swords”.
When I got home and logged on, she had added a Bible verse. Maybe I’m not so wrong in not feeling any sense of jubilation.
“Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice” Proverbs 24:17
She is quite the Biblical scholar. I would never have been able to find a quote from the Bible but she had memorized much more than I will ever take the time to do.
One song in the Wizard of Oz that has troubled me since I first saw the movie on TV many years ago was the one sung by the Munchkins, “Ding dong the witch is dead.” Is the celebrating of the death of someone what we should be teaching our children? Even though the story is fiction, the lesson that children learn from that is not one I would prefer they learn.
However, in doing some research before I started to write this, I discovered that our pleasure at seeing someone else punished may be hard wired into our brains. I had difficulty in believing what I was reading in the article called “Revenge is Sweet.” There is a German word, “schadenfreude” which is the pleasure felt over someone else’s misfortune. This is the second time this month I have run into that word. I do not understand how people can find it pleasurable or funny seeing someone else get hurt. (America’s Funniest Home Videos comes to mind.) The article actually states that “Fehr and his colleagues suggest that the feeling of satisfaction people get from meting out altruistic punishment may be the glue that keeps societies together”. I guess that means the more we find pleasure in punishment, the tighter our society will be. I cannot wrap my mind around the phrase “altruistic” punishment, since altruistic means unselfish concern for the welfare of others; selflessness.
There is also the English proverb quote ,“Vengeance is a dish best eaten cold” According to a Wikipedia article, the proverb suggests that revenge is more satisfying as a considered response enacted when unexpected, or long feared, inverting the more traditional revulsion toward ‘cold-blooded’ violence. In early literature it is used, usually, to persuade another to forestall vengeance until wisdom can reassert itself. This sense is lost in recent presentations.
I was always brought up thinking it was not right to seek revenge. Vengeance was not supposed to be taken in our own hands. Some people interviewed today expressed concern that Bin Ladin’s followers will try to seek revenge for his death. To revenge the revenge that we felt. Enter karma and the never ending cycle of retaliation. That was my first thought also, a feeling of “Uh oh. Here we go.”
Because I always seem to have to know the verses which come before and after those that are quoted, I googled Proverbs 24:18. or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from him. The parallel commentary then added, “The meaning is “Thy joy will be suicidal, the wrath of the righteous Judge will be turned upon thee, as the greater offender, and thou wilt have to bear a worse evil than that which thou exultest in.”
I fear we may be entering into the second phase of the conflict with Bin Ladin and his followers. I never fully understood the motive of Bin Ladin when he attacked. It seems it was because the USA and Israel are allies.
In 1998 Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, (a leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad), co-signed a fatwa (binding religious edict) in the name of the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders, declaring:
[t]he ruling to kill the Americans and their allies civilians and military – is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque (in Jerusalem) and the holy mosque (in Makka) from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty Allah, ‘and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together,’ and ‘fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah’.
It also seems to be because Manhattan has a very large Jewish population and is also our nation’s financial center. He wanted to hurt the USA as much as possible because he hated this country.
As a result, today he is dead. But is it over? I honestly don’t believe so. The Golden Rule is nowhere in this picture. I am uneasy about the future. I pray my thoughts are without merit and this will be the end.
Namaste. Attic Annie