Osama bin Laden is confirmed dead. As news of his demise spread, videos and reports of worldwide cheer exploded across the media. Thousands of people flocked to the streets, carrying children on their shoulders and screaming victory over evil.
I first heard of bin Laden’s death last night, when one of my sons came downstairs and informed me of the breaking news he saw reported on CNN. We turned the TV on, and after a moment of disbelief, I was actually saddened by the reactions of the people. Yes, Osama Bin Laden was an infamous figure, and he was responsible for the death of many thousands of people all over the world, but should we really rejoice over the death of a human being?
President Obama announced to the families of the victims of 9/11 that justice is done. Several leaders who felt bin Laden’s death marks the end of an era shared his sentiment, but even that statement led me to think. My heart goes out to the victims of any act of terror and their families, but how does the death of a man bring upon justice? In my opinion justice would have been served if bin Laden was captured and tried for his crimes. His death only exonerated him from facing the consequences of his actions.
Strangely enough, Adolf Hitler, whose crimes against humanity will forever be etched in the mind of the collective, was confirmed dead on April 30, 1945. The same day, sixty-six years apart. Coincidence? Maybe so, maybe not.
I remember reading once that this world has seen two teachers of compassion—the Dalai Lama and Adolf Hitler. When I first read the statement, I found it hard to accept, but as I continued reading, I understood something different: teachers use different teaching methods to drive the same lessons home. The Dalai Lama uses unconditional love to teach compassion; Hitler used unconditional hatred, two opposite faces of the same powerful feeling. The Dalai Lama teaches us to love one another because we are all expressions of the same creation, and Hitler taught us to see oneness by default, after people were senselessly murdered because of superficial differences.
What lesson did Osama bin Laden teach the world during his stay on Earth? Much like Hitler, he raised negative feelings in a selected few and he caused the rest of the world to stick to one cause: humanity. Through bin Laden’s actions, and the actions of his followers, the world understood that we are all one despite our differences, and in the greater scheme of things we are all brothers and sisters; the tragedies that befall one befall all of us as a whole.
Bin Laden is dead, and many believe human justice is served. Is divine justice also served? As the Vatican Spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, declared, “Osama bin Laden, as we all know, had the very grave responsibility of spreading division and hatred amongst the people, causing the death of countless of people, and of instrumentalizing religion for this end,” he said. “In front of the death of man, a Christian never rejoices but rather reflects on the grave responsibility of each one in front of God and men, and hopes and commits himself so that every moment not be an occasion for hatred to grow but for peace.”