I actually typed this post this morning. I primarily held off hitting “publish” because I was struggling with how to also express my regrets that bin Laden had died without (as far as we know) being exposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the meantime, I read this post at Emerging Mummy which expressed my thoughts better than I could have. I would encourage you to read her thoughts as well. Actually, if you only have time to read one post today, read hers, not mine. Additionally, as I listened to NPR, I have been gratified today to hear the well-measured cautious opinions of many in our government and press, that yes, this is a victory of intelligence and military might but no, it is not the end – we are not miraculously safe; it’s not over, because he was only one man, an important one, but only one man nonetheless.
Even if I could get there, I have no desire to celebrate with those exulting over the death of Osama bin Laden. A man is dead but does anyone really honestly think that we are going to be safer? (The State Department doesn’t think so.) If you are really honest with yourself, does this make it easier to mourn the deaths of over 3,000 people, knowing that the mastermind is dead? It doesn’t for me. Those people are still dead. I didn’t know anyone who died because of the 9/11 attacks. So I don’t understand what the families of those victims are feeling right now. I’m sure they are relieved that the hunt is finally over.
I encourage you to read President Obama’s speech here, in which he announces bin Laden’s death. He certainly doesn’t seem to take this as anything more than what it is – a [huge] step in the fight against terror but just a step, with so many more to go. I agree that this is an accomplishment in the arena of war. But I strongly disagree with those who think that it’s something to be waving flags over.
I am not in any way diminishing the work of the military and intelligence communities, who worked tirelessly to find, capture and kill bin Laden.
However, the truth remains that al Qaeda will carry on just as it did before; it will not founder (except perhaps momentarily); another leader will step into bin Laden’s place. There is now all the more reason for extremists (or those on the edge of extremism) to hate the United States. We are still involved in three wars. Women are still oppressed in Pakistan and too many other places in the world. Children are still starving. Children are still too intimately aware of the realities of conflict.
Think of the millions (potentially billions) of dollars that were spent over the last 10 years to hunt and now kill bin Laden. What if we had spent these dollars building wells and schools in every village in rural Pakistan (al Qaeda’s territory) in Pakistan? What if we went into those villages, listened to the people, figured out what they wanted/needed, and helped them get it? What if we had given those people a way to support themselves other than by sending their sons to fight with al Qaeda? What if we provided a way for them to educate their children so they didn’t have to send their kids to the extremist religious schools where they would be turned into potential suicide bombers? What if we had shown them that Americans (read: Christians) didn’t hate Muslims? What if we worked for peace?
Come Lord Jesus. We need your peace.