Bin Laden Roundup: A cycle of violence, rejoicing in killing, justice
While I find it very tempting to look at his execution and call it “justice”, the execution of Jesus Christ prevents me from doing so.
As crowds cheering bin Laden’s demise last night illustrated, revenge is a natural reaction. But a natural impulse isn’t necessarily a good one.
The Vatican has said that a Christian “never rejoices” in the face of someone’s death, even if that person has committed heinous crimes.
What the challenge of Christian divisions and the dominant response to Osama Bin Laden’s death illustrates is that the dilemma we face is not a simple, monolithic clash between ‘the civilised West’ and ‘murderous terrorists’, or between Christianity and Islam.
It is never a Christian response to celebrate the death of any human being, even one so given over to the face of evil. Violence is always an indication of our failure to resolve our conflicts by peaceful means, and is always an occasion for deeper reflection.
The death of Osama bin Laden brought a sense of relief that his influence to some extent ends, but I cannot celebrate his death. What are we doing when we publicly rejoice in someone’s killing?
We have not achieved justice, as US President Obama announced, by acting unjustly.
Here is a case where the cutting of the Gordian knot through an on-the-spot execution may be justified as the lesser evil. The US has the death penalty, and no reasonable person could dispute that Bin Laden inevitably would have faced that penalty after trial in the US.