bin Laden is dead; terrorism isn’t

At the risk of alienating many of my fellow Americans, I’ve had another thought regarding the death of Osama bin Laden.  Actually, this struck me yesterday, but I’ve put off putting it into words until now.

Several pieces I’ve read since yesterday have referred to the expectation that, though bin Laden is dead, we don’t expect Al Quaida to simply close up shop.  Leader, mastermind, moneyman though he may have been, no one reasonably expects Sunday’s mission to make the world safe.  At this point, I’m not even sure I buy Obama’s declaration that the world is safer.

In working with at-risk youth, our ministry uses a particular teaching regarding de-escalation of potential violent situations.  It is called the assisting process.  I won’t put you through all the details of it (though perhaps I should another time), but, for now, will bring up just one point in the process.

When one has gotten the potentially violent person to a place of stablility and willingness to talk, the question one puts to them is “What do you want?”  “What do you really want?”

I have no doubt this works with heated situations between individuals.  I believe this strongly enough I thin kit would be worth trying between nations and organizations.

What does Al Quaida want?  What do other terrorist organizations want?

Our answer to this question, especially immediately following September 11, 2001, was that they want to inflict pain and suffering on us.

We made their actions all about us.  Mighty self-centered of us to assume it’s all about us, don’t you think?

Please understand; I’m not saying that the solution to terrorism is for civil folk to simply give them whatever they want.  Neither, however, is the solution to attribute motives to them from only our limited perspective.

Let’s face it; no one likes not being listened to.  No one appreciates not having a voice.  Some people would do almost anything to be heard.

Terrorism is not dead.  The world is not safe. It might get just a bit safer if we all commit ourselves to actually listening to others.

Yeah, he’s dead.

Our alarm is a gentle voice of NPR set to go off at 6:30 every morning.  Today, this is the time at which we learned Osama Bin Laden had been killed.

Being in the midst of more important tasks, I didn’t listen long to the reporting. (I had a dishwasher to empty and then getting ready for a run)  Thus it wasn’t until later that I heard of all the excitement – people chanting “U S A” at a baseball game as the announcement scrolled, for instance. There were, in fact, many reports of partying in response to the news.

I was saddened at the news; I am even more saddened at the partying.

I get that bin Laden was the leader of Al Quaeda, which was responsible for the 9/11 attacks, as well as many other terrorist actions, but I don’t want to be excited about anyone’s death.

Not even bin Laden’s.

Another reason I’m not really in the partying mood over bin Laden’s apparent demise is that I doubt this means an end to terrorism, much less actual peace.  Violence as repayment for violence rarely brings an end to violence.

And so it continues.  We remember today the impromptu parties that broke out in some places around the globe immediately following 9/11.  How many of us, as we remember those parties today, are thinking, “well, look who’s partying now!”?  Do we really think this means it is over?

May we consider what kinds of things might be done to move us closer to actual peace.