Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Our Culture and Bin Laden's Death

“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.

We shake our head and think how "uncivilized" or "fanatical" others in the world are when they overtly celebrate an event embarrassing the U.S. But we are not much different are we. To lead a world to peace and democracy we must be thoughtful in our actions and humble in countenance. Celebrate what is comely and true and mourn when violence is done, even in the course of justice. Because an injustice was deeply built into the violence, into the need for justice, probably too deep to remember the original slight.

I suggest a culture of candle light vigil and meditation to note events of importance like the killing of Bin Laden. If Times Square was lit with thousands of candles singing "We Shall Overcome," the mingled joy from the relief of  years of an unfulfilled expectation would be tempered with the realization of the huge costs in lives violence causes. We would come together knowing that events of great joy and those of great sorrow are not so far apart in the circle of our lives.