Bin Laden is Dead – A Time to Rejoice?

Two immediate sensations overcame me when listening to news of Bin Laden’s death this morning. The first was a twinge of sadness as I flashbacked to that ineffable event when more than three thousand people lost their lives. I, like countless others, vividly recall I was at that precise moment. I suddenly felt myself transported back in time, clutching my then two year old daughter and watching the planes crash into the World Trade Centre. Now, ten years on, I was surprised myself when I felt this wave of emotion wash through me as I was listening to this “end of chapter.” I’m quite sure many others will have felt these same pangs. The American media will probably scramble first thing this morning to get in touch with families who lost loved ones on that tragic day. For most it will open old wounds though it is probably also an essential part of a healing process.

The other feeling was one of uneasiness as I listened to reports of scenes of jubilation at Ground Zero. Sure, death was the only appropriate punishment for this arch-terrorist. The religious rationale for capital punishment is that taking the life of another is perceived as a crime so hideous that the murderer has effectively forfeited their right to exist as no practical punishment can suffice. Still, the ancient Sages enjoin us, “do not rejoice when your enemy falls.” This quote, which originates with King Solomon in Proverbs, has several different explanations offered by commentators. To offer one of my own, I think what the wisest of all men was suggesting is that while you can feel relief knowing that Pharaoh, Stalin, Hitler, Bin Laden have been terminated, true jubilation has no place in a world evil continues to exist. We can declare victory in this battle, but the war is yet to be won. It is only when all evil will be eradicated this earth that we can revel in that ultimate joy.

Until then, we can learn an obvious lesson this historic moment. An unimaginable amount of time, energy, money and manpower spanning a decade, has gone into bringing the world’s most wanted man down. Imagine what we could do if we exerted similar resources to eliminate some of the other evils that pervade our world – such as poverty, war and hunger. We don’t need to be CIA operatives or Navy seals. We just need to follow a directive our Commander in Chief to seek to perpetuate more goodness and kindness in the world through the simple acts of reaching through hearts and touching souls. While the search for Bin Laden took them into the deepest terrains and mountainous hill of Pakistan he was hiding only eight hundred meters away the country’s Capital. Salvation is so much nearer than you think. We look forward to the day when we will be able to utter the same words as those soldiers who emerged the compound in Abbotabbad: “Mission accomplished.”