Rejoicing at death

2011-05-05 00:00

OF course I am very aware that some will ask who is to decide who is evil and who isn't. Each side, engaged in an ideological battle, believes that it is in the right and that the other side is evil. Depending on what position one holds, one's views will vary on the matter.

Osama bin Laden was a man who cared for no life. We cannot even say that he cared only for Muslim life because his organisation killed many Muslims. So it is no surprise then that African life meant nothing to him as long as his objectives were met. Africans were mere necessary collateral damage in his fight. Although poor and completely innocent in his war, the lives of the 212 Africans which he took in Kenya in 1998 meant nothing to him, as long as the objectives of his Al-Qaeda were met. They were sacrificed for a cause which he was doomed to lose.

What has been has been; none of our protestations will reverse what has happened. Bin Laden is dead. But should those who were wronged by his actions celebrate? Before we delve into the question, perhaps we should look at how the world views the United States.

The U.S. is viewed with much suspicion by large parts of the world. This is a self-created unfortunate position which it finds itself in as a direct result of some of its actions over the years. Even if the U.S.'s actions are just, there will always be some suspicion. Can its actions ever be just? It is in an unwinnable position on the global public relations platform.

Considering the conclusions that have been made about Bin Laden — that he was responsible for the 9/11 attacks — are those who are now rejoicing right to rejoice? It has to be said, no. By rejoicing at the death of one's purported enemy­, one reduces oneself to the same level of that enemy. In the words of Martin Luther King Jnr: "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."

It could be argued that some of those who are celebrating are celebrating­ justice and not the actual death of Bin Laden, although there are many who are celebrating his death. The two should be distinguished.

We like to paint all Americans with the same brush. "Americans are stupid." "Americans are dumb." I bet they hate that as much as we hate it when they show Africans as starving, mal- nourished­, jungle-dwelling tribes who love killing each other.

One can celebrate justice, but one should not celebrate death, although sometimes the line between the two can be thin. In this case there is a prevailing view that the U.S. views its might as justice.

Justice, according to the philosopher­ Blaise Pascal, "is subject to dispute; might is easily recognised­ and is not disputed. So we cannot give might to justice. Because might has gainsaid justice and has declared that it is she herself who is just. And thus being unable to make what is just strong, we have made what is strong just".

Those who celebrated ought to remember Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address where he humbly made the speech after his Union armies defeated the slavery­-supporting Confederacy. "In a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we cannot consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract." He went on to say, "It is for us the living­, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced."

Americans should not gloat at Bin Laden's death. It only angers those who feel that the U.S. is hell-bent on destroying them. Instead there should be humility and self-reflection­ as opposed to self-congratulatory bravado. There should be building and honouring those who died a senseless death on September 11, 2001.

The U.S. should shock the world by being humble. But I'm afraid it may be too late. — News24.com

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