I've avoided hitting upon this subject for a while, to allow some time to pass and for people to calm down. That includes myself.
Celebrations seemed in order when the news spread that Bin Laden had met his end. Everyone I heard from was happy, excited, and celebratory. People seemed to feel that "he got his" and took some measure of closure and solace from the news that he is no longer walking the earth.
I cannot concur with this sentiment. I won't disagree that he did terrible things and caused a tremendous amount of pain. That is not, in any way, being debated.
What concerns me is that people both wanted him dead and celebrated his death. There is a spectrum of reasons why this is of concern, here are three:
1. The death of any human being - no matter how horrible or cruel they were, is never something to be celebrated. That someone caused so much pain is a tragedy, and to celebrate their death is equally as much a tragedy. People point the finger at him as being so terrible and they feel some false sense of justification for calling for his death and celebrating his death. Truth is, of all the tragedy in the world, none is greater than the one that brings a smile to anyone's face. Delight in pain and death is a very sad thing indeed.
2. No matter how terrible the things that someone has done are, revenge is never justified. You can reason it as much as you like, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and you will never prove to me that there is any virtue in seeking revenge.
3. Karma just got sliced in half. Instead of allowing karma to set the balance and put things right, people jumped up and took the reigns in their own hands. The thing about balance is that it is extremely delicate, and humans know far too little to stick their grubby paws in Karma's business. Don't forget that while mankind views death as some horrible demon, it is in fact also an escape. Now this man no longer fears that he will be hunted down, he no longer fears any suffering, he will no longer experience any suffering, he can never be angry or disappointed again, he can never stub his toe again. While he has been robbed of the joys of life, he has also been robbed of its harshness. None of us is able to say that he got what he deserved - that is something that no human can know, or put into action.
Who is any one of us to say when any other person's life is to end? No matter the reason, no matter the horror or tragedy, there isn't a human being alive who can comprehend the all of existance or who can tell life how it's supposed to work. It's not the place of any human to make these decisions, and it is certainly not the place of any human to worry about what other people are doing. You've caused pain through your actions too - maybe not on a global scale, maybe not by death, but we all cause a lot more pain the world than we are ever aware of.
Next time something like this happens, think about who might be out there that wants your head on a platter, and would do a dance on your grave. It can be a sobering thought, and this world certainly needs more sobriety.