This past weekend something really wonderful and something really sad happened. First the happy thing, the late Pope John Paul II was beatified, meaning that he is well on his way to becoming a saint in the Catholic Church. I have had the pleasure to talk to several people who actual met the pontiff, and much like folks who have met the Dalai Lama, they talk about the holiness of John Paul. He, like the Dalai Lama, is someone people feel was a special being, someone who carried a compassion and holiness about him. He was fluent in many languages, went behind the iron curtain and even after being shot in an assassination attempt, he met with and forgave the assassin, now that’s a saintly act if there ever was one. I think it is wonderful that John Paul is being recognized for his life.
Also this weekend, Osama Bin Laden was killed, assassinated by my country an act that many if not all Americans will condone and one that I have mixed feelings about. Was he an evil man? Most certainly he was and deserved to be brought to justice and perhaps even executed for his crimes. My mixed feelings come from the fact that my country assassinated someone in my name, killed for me and much like military action and capital punishment it leaves me a little queasy to think someone has killed in my name. I know this is not the first time in my life that it was done and it is most times done under military action the price we pay to remain a free and democratic country and so, I have to be ok with that I like my country and my life. It was Steve Earle, the musician, who at a concert first put that thought in my head, the state, killing on my behalf and I have to admit it has changed the way I think these type of things no matter how justified.
The sad thing that happened was the way my fellow Americans reacted to the news of the assassination. Should we be glad justice was done? Absolutely and as President Obama did in announcing the news, acknowledging the justice aspect in a respectful manor is how we should have reacted. But I saw people celebrating at the gates of the Whitehouse, chanting USA, USA and basically having a giant party. Hell I even heard fireworks in my neighborhood. On September 11th, Americans were furious that Arabs celebrated the death of Americans in the streets of their countries. Are we any better than they are celebrating the death of Osama Bin Laden in the streets of our nation?