Dancing on the Grave of Your Enemy: An Interruption
'Do I ever will the death of a lawless man?' says the Lord, 'since My will is for him to turn from the evil way and live?' - Ezekiel 18:23
I apologize for interrupting the series with a different post than expected, but these things happen.
I was watching an old episode of How I Met Your Mother and chatting on FB with a friend, when a status showed up in my newsfeed commenting that someone had heard that Osama was dead. Since it was from a pretty reliable person, I switched over to CNN, and Wolf Blitzer confirmed the news for me. I waited, then, for an hour to hear the President speak, and in the meantime, grew greatly disheartened at the activity on my various social networks.
People I know to be otherwise good and compassionate people were taking great delight, making mocking jokes, and wondering what he was saying at the pearly gates. Many were openly declaring happiness and joy and thankfulness to God and the American military.
And it wasn't nuanced. It wasn't a "Thank God 9/11 families have some closure." It wasn't a "Thank God our tenuous excuse for the war in Afghanistan is gone now and we can bring the troops home."
No, people were openly thanking God for the death of our enemy.
I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure the Jesus I know wouldn't like us to dance on the graves of our enemy, as so many are doing tonight.
Indeed, didn't Jesus tell us:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
We are better people than this. Many Americans use celebrations of small portions of the Muslim world on 9/11 as a charge to why they are ALL our enemies. Americans were disgusted by the show of celebration over death.
And yet, on my CNN feed right now, I see carousing in front of the White House, American flags raised, "USA USA USA!" being chanted over and over.
Yes, before you say anything: I recognize that he was our enemy. I recognize that he helped mastermind the worst terrorist attack this country has ever seen. I understand celebrating over the death of innocents and celebrating over the death of a feared enemy are two different things, at least to those celebrating. And I understand that he was a major symbol for many, many people.
John Green tweeted about it this morning: "Like many people, I feel like celebrating. Remember this feeling. It is human, and can help us understand when others express bloodlust."
Celebration over a death, in other words, is closely related to the bloodlust that leads to the death of innocents. It is human; that does not make it right.
In the end, the Bible tells us that God is unwilling that any should perish, that God loved his enemies so much that he died for them, that we should mourn those who do not live, even if they are our enemies.
And as much as Osama was "our Hitler," we need to be better people than this.
We ARE better people than this, plain and simple. To dance on the grave of an enemy is not becoming for anyone, much less a nation that paints itself as the greatest nation on earth.
In each great event, we are given a chance and a choice to be better. American Christians: you failed.