"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Monday, May 2, 2011

Appreciating America - "With Elation and With Tears"

A number of Facebook posts made me want to write down my thoughts about the death of Osama bin Laden. People were beginning to discuss whether we should be joyous, or whether we should be celebrating the death of this evil man. I, too, had been watching the media, and seeing the “celebration” of Americans continue to grow as they learned the news. I saw no anger; I saw no trouble; Americans were singing the National Anthem and basically rejoicing….gathered together to express their feelings and rejoice not in someone’s death, but in victory.

The celebration seemed to show no boundaries between conservatives and liberals. There was obvious unity.  I saw the liberal Jeraldo jubilant and making a few fist pumps, and I don't believe I have ever seen Joy Behar so ecstatic as at this time when she finally had a reason to be proud of the actions of her President.  But without a doubt, conservatives were joyous, too.  I believe that is as it should be...if we can not express ourselves at the death of evil, we are in a pretty sad state of affairs. And I don't believe the Bible teaches us that we should not rejoice when we are successful at defeating this kind of evil.

Almost everyone the media pundits interviewed, whom had lost someone on 9/11, when asked of their feelings, expressed the same thing… “It’s bittersweet,” They answered. “There is no great joy. I am happy, but I am sad.” I think everyone feels pretty much the same way. It is all very sad because it is a reminder of all that was lost.

The most touching interview of all for me, was the one with Todd Beamer's dad.  Remember Todd, the hero of the plane that went down in the Pennsyvania field.  "Let's roll!" he had instructed as he organized a number of others to sacrificially take charge of the situation and prevent those terrorists from doing what they intended.  Todd's dad, who is a born again Christian, spoke eloquently and sincerely as he shared his loss and now his feelings at the death of bin Laden.  He was a perfect example of how the Christian that has been wronged should respond at the news of the death of this evil person who caused such sorrow.  I think I heard it expressed best like this: "Elation with tears."

For me, I believe justice has been served and I am thankful bin Laden is dead. But when I heard the news, I didn’t laugh….I didn’t say "Yahoo! The sucker is dead!"  Rather, I felt relief. They got him! He can’t hurt anyone ever again. And that is cause for celebration. I was proud of my nation, and our military. I felt thankful, and I couldn’t wait to tell someone. I posted a comment on Facebook about bin Laden being dead, and then I woke my son from a nap to tell him the news so he could watch the coverage with me.

We quietly watched and waited for the President’s announcement. I have to admit, that was the first time I have ever waited for this President to say something. I’m not so sure this is a celebration over a death. No, I wouldn’t call it a celebration of death. If not for the things Osama has done, there would be no acknowledgment of his life (or death) whatsoever. No, this isn't about him.  It is actually a celebration that justice won over evil. It is a celebration that this evil man can never hurt anyone again. He can no longer murder his own people, or those of our nation, or any other. We celebrate the fact that because of bin Laden’s death, lives will actually be saved. We celebrate the character of a nation that won’t stand for injustice. We celebrate the resolve of a nation that would not give up until the leader of this dangerous terrorist organization was caught. We celebrate a dedicated military. I am proud of my nation, and I believe this is a celebration of life.

After 9/11, my pastor was called to New York to help wherever he could with the recovery process and "grief counseling". He would not like that term, and actually that is not why he went; he went, simply to share Jesus. Pastor was especially needed to talk with the police officers that were working such long hours and undergoing such turmoil with pain in their own hearts at having seen first-hand what had happened. It must have been horrendous to have to deal with that kind of loss and grief of so many people. When my pastor returned to our church, he talked to us about much of what he had seen there, and some of what he had learned.

I will never forget how he told us, there was one time when he merely showed a kindness by touching someone's shoulder to offer comfort and that kind action was all it took to cause this person to break down in tears. All needed to cry, but they were not allowed. They were the ones that needed to be strong.

My pastor also told us something that I believe impacted him greatly; it certainly impacted me when he told us, and it has never left my memory. He said rescuers at Ground Zero were digging and searching and looking for the bodies of these loved ones. He told us how he would never forget, when everyone stood at attention at a memorial when one had been found and identified. People expected to see a body, but instead what had been found was maybe only a finger, or an arm. Enough had been found to make an identification as to who it was, but certainly there was no need for a large casket at a memorial. I will never forget what our pastor said to his congregation. “We dig,” he told us from the heart of one that had seen it. "Life is so important to Americans; so we dig.” We search and we never give up until as many bodies (or in this case body parts) as possible would be recovered.

I’m sorry; I don’t mean to get graphic. But I never forgot what he taught us; really, it was what I already knew, but hadn’t thought of in terms such as this. Americans value life. Even in death, we value life. We protect life, and we account for life. And when it is over, we celebrate life. Our military leaves no one behind, because we value life.

We believe in things that are right. We strive to protect the innocent. We fight for justice and we fight against evil.  When we win, we rejoice.

On a personal note, when the drag racers that killed my nephew received their punishment, though it was less severe then what we believed it should be, we didn’t celebrate their punishment. There is never any satisfaction in revenge and we already knew this well. There was no vengeance, or victory, or rejoicing. It wall all just too painful, but we knew the guilty must be held accountable for their actions. We were broken and sad, but thankful consequences were meted out and that the guilty were held accountable. Thankful, yes; joyful, no, joy simply wasn’t possible. But neither would we let anyone make us the “bad guys” for desiring justice. It is what must be. Justice must take place. In this case, there was a debt to society that must be paid, in order for our society to succeed and be safe. One sees things in light of ones own personal experience.

All of this to simply say, at this time of bin Laden’s death, I don’t believe the celebrating we see, is because of the death of a man. And I don't believe the rejoicing is wrong. When I watch the revelers on television, I see life, I see strength, and I see pride. I see people that believe there is finally hope in a long awaited victory. The celebration is because we are a nation that values life. And with this man dead, no more innocents can die at his hands. No one knows this better than those like Mr. Beamer that lost loved ones on that horrible day. And I saw none interviewed that displayed any inappropriate rejoicing.  Truly those are the examples to follow. Without a doubt the celebration is because we are a nation that still values justice. We value what is right. We value life to the degree that we will dig until every last person possible is found. That alone is cause for celebration. Don’t you see? Don’t be so hard on those that celebrate. It is actually all about life. We celebrate because we know we must have justice to continue life.

 When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth.~ Proverbs 11:7 -KJV


To every thing there is a season… A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance … A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
~Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

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