by Eli McCarthy
“Osama is dead, Osama is dead,” they repeat on CNN, and then people gather outside the White House waving flags, cheering, chanting “USA,” and singing the national anthem. What are the feelings in these hearts? What habits led to these people gathering in this way for this occasion? What habits will be perpetuated by this gathering? A human being has died. A person with a family has died. A child of our God has died. Yet, many of us celebrate. Many think that “justice” has occurred and that somehow we’ve honored those killed at 9/11.
I assume the “killers” of Osama will soon be honored. More “heroes” of violence for our youth to model. Jesus, what are you thinking and feeling? Why did you draw in the sand and say, “Who here is without sin, throw the first stone,” to those who were enacting ‘justice’ by wanting to stone the woman caught in adultery? Why did you tell Peter to “put down your sword; those who live by the sword will die by the sword”? Why did you dare, of all things, to challenge us to “love our enemies”?… Jesus, don’t you see the faces of “joy” in front of the White House?
Yes, in fact we all do. And that “joy” is the tragedy that builds on the tragedy of death, and the tragedy of killing, and the tragedy that after continuous wars we still, still celebrate violence as if it redeems, as if it brings ultimate security, as if somehow more violence won’t flow from this. Why aren’t we people that mourn violent death?
We seem to mourn when the tsunami hit Japan or when our troops are killed. But we don’t appear to mourn when we torture others, when we execute those on death row, when Saddam or Osama is killed. Are we too obsessed with our capacity to separate the “good” from the “bad,” to point to the “guilty” and to feel assured of ourselves as “innocent?”
I’m sure many will read this and call it anti-U.S., unpatriotic, unsupportive of our troops, socialist, idealist, religious fanaticism and the list of distracting name-calling goes on. But what this is about for me, and I hope for some others, is what does it mean to live as a human being? What vision of human excellence are we promoting? I am searching and I hope others will search with me.
Eli McCarthy is a member of Pax Christi Metro-D.C.-Baltimore.