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PHEBESS
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Mixed feelings about bin Laden's death

Monday, May 02, 2011

This comes from Rabbi Arthur Waskow of The Shalom Center, but it expresses my feelings:


How might we address the death of a mass murderer?

The Torah describes Moses and Miriam leading the ancient People Israel in a celebratory song after the tyrannical Pharaoh and his Army have been overwhelmed by the waters of the Red Sea. Later, the Rabbis gave a new overtone to the story: “The angels,” they said, “ began to dance and sing as well, but God rebuked them: ‘These also are the work of My hands. We must not rejoice at their deaths!’ “

Notice the complexity of the teaching: Human beings go unrebuked when they celebrate the downfall and death of a tyrant; but the Rabbis are addressing our higher selves, trying to move us into a higher place. (The legend is certainly not aimed at “angels.”) Similarly, we are taught that at the Passover Seder, when we recite the plagues that fell upon the Egyptians, we must drip out the wine from our cups as we mention each plague, lest we drink that wine to celebrate these disasters that befell our oppressors.

I myself would have been a lot happier to see Bin Laden arrested to stand trial, but assuming the report that he violently assisted arrest is true, I have no objection to his having been killed.

Yet I was dismayed by the quasi-sports-victory tone of the celebrations that arose around the country -- chanting "U-S-A, U-S-A," for instance.

What I myself felt was more like "Sad necessity" -- and I would have preferred a mournful remembrance of the innocent dead of the Twin Towers and of Iraq and Afghanistan -- a thoughtful reexamination of how easy it is to turn abominable violence against us into a justification for indiscriminate violence by us.

Can we now say, “Enough, enough!” -- refuse to drink the intoxicating triumphalist wine of celebration, and turn our attention and commitment to end these wars that take on a deadly “life” of their own?


www.theshalomcenter.org/
node/1838
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • v PHEBESS
    Thank you all - I'm glad to know I wasn't the only one!
    1880 days ago
  • v NEHITA
    I totally agree with you. I couldn't believe the responses that people were saying and giving. I know he did wrong and he will have to answer to it one day, but no one should be rejoicing over anyone's death. I know he hurt a lot of people and he's dead now and its still not going to bring back the millions of people who lost their lives or the people who are still hurting, but at least there is one bad person gone.

    Just my opinion.
    1880 days ago
  • v SECRETFUN
    Amen.
    1881 days ago
  • v PHEBESS
    Yes, Ima - I remember that. I guess that's where my feelings come from.

    Today, I actually received an email with a T shirt showing bin Ladn's face in a gun site - I unsubscribed from the company's advertising. I thought it was horrible!
    1881 days ago
  • v IMAOFSEVEN
    Thanks so much for posting this. I was starting to think that I was the only one who felt this way. Did you know that on the last day of Passover we only say half of the Hallel (prayer of Thanksgiving) because on that day the Egyptians were drowned in the sea, and we don't have full rejoicing when our enemies fall?
    1881 days ago
  • v TARABEAR
    I agree with this too. I think this says it all...


    "Yet I was dismayed by the quasi-sports-victory tone of the celebrations that arose around the country -- chanting "U-S-A, U-S-A," for instance.

    What I myself felt was more like "Sad necessity" -- and I would have preferred a mournful remembrance of the innocent dead of the Twin Towers and of Iraq and Afghanistan -- a thoughtful reexamination of how easy it is to turn abominable violence against us into a justification for indiscriminate violence by us. "


    1881 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/3/2011 12:29:50 PM
  • v JOPAPGH
    Agree.
    1882 days ago
  • v PHEBESS
    LOL - I just didn't want it to turn into a major political debate. But, if we (as North Americans, as the Western world, as Judeo-Christians, as however we see ourselves) - if we hold ourselves to a higher standard, which we seem to, the we should ACT upon that higher standard, and not act the same as the people we have vilified, however justified we may feel that action to be.
    1882 days ago
  • v WATERMELLEN
    No hate filled response here: I appreciate your thoughtful and candid and nuanced discussion.
    1882 days ago
  • v PHEBESS
    emoticon

    And I know that many people do NOT feel the way I do - so - I don't want to turn this into a huge long political debate. I was merely expressing my opinion. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I'm just sending out a warning that I probably will delete any hate-filled responses.

    emoticon
    1882 days ago
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