No surprise, I have been thinking about the death of Osama Bin Ladin. A goal has been met, a mission accomplished. But this event, like all that happens, does not stand in isolation. This is major news, and it has hit a note that is reverberating in the atmosphere of human existence. There are aftershocks of all sorts, covering an emotional continuum.
Voices are singing and shouting with jubilation, proclaiming that justice has been done. A chapter in history that blasted open on September 11, 2001 has come to an end. But, let's not be naïve. Bin Ladin's death will have repercussions, for his followers will have their own response.
As I reflect upon these matters, my thoughts and prayers are directed towards the deepest heart of humanity. Can we pay attention to what is trembling beneath the surface of our own perspective? What is the momentum that is gathering that will someday be recorded as the "way" we responded to the event of May 1, 2011?
We will not minimize the sense of relief. We boldly and broadly express gratitude for the many, many people who have worked tirelessly (even to the point of death) to call a halt to a reign of terrorism and oppression.
But our behavior and demeanor now will take a place in the chronicle of human history that will inform and instruct our children's children. What will the next generations see as the dominant trend of human expression when they look at the people of this day?
My hope is that the scale of observable and audible expression will tip towards all that would be pleasing to God.
After all, we know the tone and the tenor that God invites us to seek -- abiding and compassionate love, mercy, peace, forgiveness and gentleness.
I am grateful that in the midst of all the talk about the death of an enemy, we can also recall words rooted in the love of God.
"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
We can make choices regarding our part in history. We need to be careful with words, for someone down the road may quote us! Words, even when uttered at the relief of pain or fear, can be toxic to the atmosphere of human attitudes. Our hope is to till history's soil with seeds of grace. As you think about all of this, how will you express yourself in ways that speak of life and that sustain peace? How will you shape your words, your actions, even your demeanor, in ways that speak of the light and love of Christ?