Saturday, May 7, 2011

Osama Bin Ladin and Jesse James

A recent status update on someone's Facebook page really resonated with my feelings in the wake of the killing of Osama Bin Ladin: "I will not cheer for death, but instead I will mourn the death grip violence has on our world and I put my hope in the Prince of Peace." I have mixed feelings about the world's reaction to his death.  I was sitting on the sofa reading when my son flipped through the stations on the tv and we heard the news.  Since the end of February when I started blogging, I have kept a pretty lean "media diet" to help protect my heart, but this news I actually heard in my own living room from our family television.

As someone who volunteered several weeks at Ground Zero after September 11, this issue triggers lots of emotions in my heart.  The disaster relief work my husband and I did that year has left an indelible mark in a very private, hidden place in my soul that I'm slow to mention.  But as someone who believes that God loves and can forgive all people, when I heard this news I didn't find myself cheering.  Instead I was surprised -- then I felt a sudden sigh emerge from my lips as I sat quietly stunned on the sofa for quite awhile, soaking it all in and trying to figure out what I was feeling.  Amazingly I was in the same spot in my house when I watched the plane hit the second tower of the World Trade Center on another sunny blue-sky  morning, now almost ten years ago.  And my reaction was so similar.  I began to weep without knowing why I was weeping.  I just know that my heart was feeling just a tiny piece of what God must be feeling.

My six year old son sitting next to me asked about the man that our US soldiers killed -- and why would  some people cheer?  He remarked that the celebration at Ground Zero looked like the Vancouver street celebration we experienced live when Canada won the gold medal in hockey a year ago February. He asked why people would be so happy that someone died.  My son was only a twinkle in my eye in 2001 and did not know about what happened or his parent's role in the recovery process.  Although an avid writer all my life, I didn't very write in 2001. Everything was just too raw. And I've never talked with him about September 11th -- until today.

Outlaw Jesse James
This post is not about judging anyone, pointing fingers or denying anyone their feelings -- anywhere along the continuum.  But rather it just made me think as I experience this teachable moment with my son. I see so many historical parallels to the killing of Jesse James, a well-known American outlaw who was known to rob banks and kill plenty of harmless civilians. 

After years of being hunted by the US government, the press reported that Jesse James was shot in the back in 1882 --rather than being brought to court, found guilty and punished.  There were those who cheered.  Those who mourned.  Some who sat stunned on their sofa.   (Read about his death at the link above). Then the story emerged of the government's involvement because a bounty was placed on his head and those who shot him were officially pardoned by the Governor. The story is full of moral dilemmas.

This morning I reflect on the words of Christ as recorded in the book of Matthew 5:38-41
 "You have learned how it was said: 'Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.' But I say to you, Offer the wicked man no resistance. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; if a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him."

It's my prayer today that I could be obedient to Jesus' words...that I would choose to give up my natural instinct and instead choose go the second mile WITH THEM.  I pray with tremendous gratitude that I do not shoulder the responsibility to make these difficult decisions.  Whether I like or don't like who is in charge, I DO have the responsibility to pray for them and be part of the process to elect moral leaders.

This morning I ask you to join me in praying that our world leaders would have wisdom...and just as importantly that they would have the courage to do what they know they should do.  Even if it means that they will face negative press, popularity or even lose their job.  May we all have that courage to affect such positive change in the world.