Thursday, September 29, 2011

I Believe in Love

I believe in love, it's all we got
Love has no boundaries, no borders to cross
Love is simple, hate breeds
Those who think difference is the child of disease

-Elton John/Bernie Taupin

I wrote this several months ago but feel like it’s still pertinent today. Maybe more than ever with the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 just passed.

On Sunday, April 24, 2011 those of us in the U.S. who are Christians celebrated, with joy, the promise of redemption and the victory of love over a violent bloody death. Exactly one week later many of us were celebrating again. Osama bin Ladin, the most wanted and hated man in America, was dead. I watched, along with millions around the world, as the news unfolded. I was proud of the military personnel, who did their job swiftly and expeditiously with minimal loss of life. I was proud of our president, Barack Obama, who knew what had to be done and ordered it done with no apologies. There is no doubt it was a night to feel good about being an American.

As I watched, people began to gather - at ground zero, at the White House, the Pentagon and in a field in Pennsylvania. They were jubilant, celebrating, chanting and joyous. What were they celebrating? They were celebrating the death of a man. My patriotic pride quickly began to give way to a sinking feeling - something was grossly wrong with that picture.

I remember what I was doing on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. I was at home contemplating how I was going to enjoy the unusually beautiful day. My sister called me and said turn on the TV a plane just crashed into one of the Twin Towers. As I watched, stunned, horror piled upon horror and the news got more grim and bleak by the minute.

I remember the fear when I realized the next day that one of the planes came perilously close to Cleveland. I remember the anger and the anguish. But I also remember watching video coverage of crowds of people in the Arab world celebrating. I remember thinking, how can they celebrate when hundreds of people are dead or missing? Do they not know the terrible cost of that momentary victory?

9 1/2 years later I found myself asking similar questions. How can we celebrate when a human being is dead?. How can we be celebrating a victory for death and revenge? Are there people in the Arab world resenting Americans for celebrating this man’s death? Do we not know the terrible cost of this momentary victory?

Yes, Osama bin Ladin did terrible things. Yes, no question that he deserved to be brought to justice. 91/2 years was a long time to wait for justice to be served, and as long as he was alive the threat of another disaster hung over our heads. (Or so we were told). But could we have captured him in all of those 91/2 years without killing him? Could we have done so without putting the lives of women and children with him at risk? Did we really try?

I also found myself thinking about the military personnel involved in the raid on that April day. Killing a person, up close and personal, is different than killing “targets” from a distance. How do you reconcile yourself to that?

So what's to be done? Pondering the terribly ironic bookends of that April week I realize that the only way to go forward is to keep going back. Back to Easter Sunday. Remembering that Love did, and still does, triumph over violence and death. Believing in Love and living it. Praying for and loving all of the victims and the perpetrators of death and hate. At the end of this September, 2011  I really have no choice but to say that, in spite of it all, I (still) believe in Love.

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