Monday, May 2, 2011

A perspective on death

I'm guessing you've heard that Osama bin Laden is dead. What does this mean? What comes next? How do we react?

As we just celebrated the Jewish holiday of Passover, a quotation comes to mind. After Pharoah's army was drowned in the Red Sea, the angels began to rejoice. The Almighty chided them, saying, "My creatures are dying and you're singing songs!"

Note, though, that this reprimand is not directed at the Jews who are also celebrating on the far side of the banks. I see this as a distinction in what is being celebrated. On the one hand, the angels have the perspective to see the event from an uninvolved position. It is their responsibility to take the good of all into account. The Jews, on the other hand, are celebrating their freedom and the inability of their former masters to take it away from them.

So - are we the angels or the Jews in this story? Or are we some of both?

As for how the world will respond, I predict this will make the odds of a Republican presidential candidate beating President Obama nearly insurmountable, barring an event of the magnitude of Katrina or a double-dip Great Recession. I also predict a small contingent of conspiracy theorists who will be reported on, of course, since they make the event seem controversial in a way that makes modern media salivate.

Pakistan will face many questions, some insightful and some downright silly, over how bin Laden could have be hiding so close to a training base. My coworker rightly points out that, perhaps, there are a great many fortified mansions in Pakistan given the tribal war lords common in politics of the region. Perhaps the Pakistani intelligence even provided critical assistance in the gathering of knowledge and planning that led to the raid. We as civilians will likely never know the truth.

In the meantime, let us not rejoice in death but rather in a respite from the slavery of hatred. Perhaps it will be short lived though I hope it will lead to an end to hostilities on all sides.

In peace,