Monday, May 02, 2011

A "feel-good" moment for the country

There isn't a soul old enough to remember the look of horror on the face of people running from the World Trade Center while the buildings were burning who doesn't want to share in the celebration of news that the architect of that disaster, Osama bin Laden, is no longer walking among us.

Likewise, no one will deny that the elimination of bin Laden is an historical milestone. But, lasting peace will never come about through vengeance, or bloodshed. Lasting peace can only be accomplished through tolerance, compassion, and understanding.

The work is not done. Only a symbol has been removed. The underlying causes that produced the monstrous crimes of bin Laden still remain. As a planet, we must address those causes. We must work to end global hunger, and economic inequality. We must work to end world poverty.

I'm sure President Obama would agree how important it is that we educate ourselves about those whose views differ from our own, and embrace those differences. We must not look to blame Muslims, but say, as the president rightly did on Sunday, that "bin Laden wasn't a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims." Now more than ever, it's imperative not to think of followers of Islam as bin Ladens in training any more than we think of those who follow Christianity as Hitlers in training.

To those who say, "the dude needed to be taken out," okay. That may be true. We have centuries of jurisprudence that might wish to phrase it differently, but no one wants to deny a "feel-good" moment for a country for which, in the past decade, those moments have been few and far between. But, feeling good only lasts a moment, then reality sets in, and unless the work begins in earnest to make this place a liveable place for all of us, there will be even fewer feel-good moments to come.

It has become almost customary for the United States to act in ways that defy international law, Geneva, and the Constitution, so why we should we start now? "Justice has been served;" well, that may not be exactly what the framers had in mind. Having said that, one would be hard-pressed to find anyone who can honestly say they shed a tear on hearing that Osama bin Laden lost his life in such a violent way. Those who live by the sword die by the sword, and that maxim excludes no one.

Ultimately, justice is the result of a process, not an act. However tempting it is to think that the demise of one person will lead to the cessation of conflict, it simply isn't true. It is easier to destroy a symbol than a way of thinking. Until true justice is served, this planet will be wracked with plagued by senseless, horrific acts of violence, and equally senseless acts of revenge