Op-Ed: Buffalo News: Can we find it in ourselves to forgive bin Laden?
The Buffalo News published an op-ed I wrote regarding the death of bin Laden. Same notes, different key…based on the last few days of material.
Upon hearing of Osama bin Laden’s death, I looked to my wife and said, “I know it’s not right to celebrate this, to take pleasure in vengeance, but I have to say that I’m not going to lose too much sleep about this death tonight.”
For Millennials, Sept. 11, 2001, was a seminal moment. Coupled with the madness of Columbine, the world suddenly became a very precarious place. Sunday night, many young people filled the streets, and while all seems right with the world right now, we all fail to see that things are not any different. War still rages on many fronts and terrorists still plan attempts to bomb subways and buildings and not merely disturb our peace, but eradicate it.
As a campus minister, I know that this does not look one bit like the peaceful kingdom of God.
Some thoughts from the local paper’s peanut gallery as well include:
Alan Marshall from South Wales, NY: A country that does not stand up for the rights of its citizenry is surly doomed. Before forgiveness is given the guilty must feel sorrow for the lives they so needlessly and suddenly have ended. So Mr. Hayes before you so cavalierly ask me to forgive Osama bin Laden, lets first ask the innocent people in the World Trade Center Twin Towers how they feel, remember those tortured soles? The ones that decided to jump 110 feet to their certain death, the courage to perform that act was surely superhuman, but better than enduring the searing heat of 2000 degrees and the eventuality of being burned alive. How about the passengers aboard flights 11, 77 and 175, think they wanted to die on that sunny gorgeous day, I think not. And lest we forget flight 93 those passengers at least had some time to react to their situation before their impending doom, they reacted and fought back! They didnt try to befriend the hijackers they fought back, force against force. You statement We can rejoice only when peace reigns instead of vengeance sounds nice and looks good on paper but you seem to miss one thing. They dont like you, your family, your beliefs, your god, your very being. You can offer you hand in friendship but realize they have from day one hated you and what you stand for.
For the record, I lost two friends that day and a distant family member in my wife’s family. So I know well the pain that has been inflicted by the terrorists. My point is that our hatred of them based on their hatred of us does not bring us closer to peace. It moves us closer to being like the terrorists.
That said, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have to fight against the forces–especially when faced with an immediate situation as those on United 93 like my friend Debbie Welsh, were thrust into.
However, the more we hate the terrorists the deeper their hatred for us grows. Now that Bin Laden is dead, what are we holding onto? Forgiveness calls us to move on into a healing space. That indeed takes time, but can we at least now take that first step towards peace?