Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Teaching our children

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

As an American who watched in horror as the towers fell, there has to be a small part of me that is glad to see the end of such a hateful presence in our world. I believe that Osama bin Laden had a hatred in his soul, and I can only imagine how it must have eaten at him to enable him to cause such immense suffering to so many other people. I can absolutely empathize with those rejoicing in his death. And yet, what I really feel is sorrow. Sorrow for this man, who zealously allowed his beliefs to blind him, sorrow for the lives that were lost to his terrorism, sorrow for those that were left behind... And if I could believe that his death took a small piece of hatred out of our world, I might find myself glad of it, but unfortunately I don't. I can only imagine how much more the hatred in the hearts of his followers has intensified in the last few days, how much more righteous they must feel-we've killed their leader, proven ourselves the enemy.

I don't want anyone to mistake this for sympathy for extremists. It is, rather, a cautionary tale for us of the dangers of hatred and allowing it to have any seat in our hearts. As a follower of Jesus, I believe in the power of a hatred that consumes a person. My Christ died because of that hate. But more importantly, I believe in the power of love and in the refusal to hate our enemies. But just as Islamic extremists use their beliefs to justify terrorist acts, so do we as Christians often use our ideals to harm others. Our Bible becomes a battering ram.

But my Jesus-I believe that He's grieving for Osama bin Laden, the loss of this man to evil. And so should we mourn for any person so corrupted by hate. Bin Laden absolutely needed to be taken down, killed even. But doesn't it just make you hurt inside, knowing how absolutely full of filth people can be?

So it brings up the question then, what are we teaching our children. Or better, what am I teaching my children. And what I want them to know is that hatred is never okay, regardless of who the object of that hate is. Do I hate what Al-Quaida has done and will continue to do until they're stopped? ABSOLUTELY. But for the people, I grieve that they are so lost to their iniquities. I can't deny that I'm glad he's no longer in charge of such a powerful terrorist group. But to hate him? That would only serve to make me his equal, and I won't let hatred have that place in my life.