02 May 2011

"We Don't Celebrate Death"

Immediately after the news about the killing of Osama bin Laden rolled across my computer screen, I attempted to get in touch with a good friend of mine with whom I normally discuss all things political and baseball related.  We eventually connected via phone, listened to the President's speech while on the line with each other and reflected on it a bit.  This morning, I received an email from this same friend articulating his further reflections on this particular event.

One line in particular stood out in his email:

We don't celebrate death.


9/11 took place my junior year of high school.  An announcement came over the loud speaker about some sort of accident in New York City involving a plane.  Nothing prepared us for what had happened.

More than just experiencing 9/11, I smelt it.  It is a smell that I will never forget, yet wish never to remember.  It was the smell of thousands incinerated, melting iron and concrete and, if it has a smell, despair.  This smell drifted -- literally -- in a cloud over the Hudson River to settle upon northern New Jersey.

Two years later, I arrived in Washington, DC for the beginning of college.  Five years later, I left DC and moved to New York City -- Brooklyn, to be specific.  I spent the majority of time free time for that year in Manhattan.

From time to time, one would see police and/or other service personnel armed to the hilt conducting training operations in the city.

The thought of death by coordinated attack because implicit in my life and soon, as most thoughts like these do, faded to the cacophony of life lived in a world beset by original sin.


Immediately last night, it seems, two reactions grew from the bellies of Americans.  On one hand, many, many people cheered the death of this man -- this symbol of what happens when hatred ferments in one's heart unabatedly.

On the other hand -- and perhaps this is because I attend a school of theology -- there are those quick to quote Sacred Scripture, all of the classic quotes about non-violence and loving of enemies.  Both seem natural in their own ways, though the pervasiveness haughtiness of facebook updates and tweets make everyone into the editor of his or her own editorial page and I'm not quite sure how I feel about that.


But, I keep coming back to a nagging reality of sorts.

We don't celebrate death.

We commemorate the lives of those who have died in the service not their death on a far flung battle field, we do not celebrate; we mourn the lives lost by innocent citizens throughout the world, we do not celebrate; we reflect upon the death of a terrorist who has perpetrated acts so heinous that they avoid true contemplation and rational reflection, we do not celebrate.

We don't celebrate death.


Perhaps, I am wrong, at least in one case.  We celebrate the death of one.  We just have done so, we continue to do so, we will always do so.

And quite frankly, it is only by His death that the world could ever be saved.


Anonymous said...

Great post Matt.

- Gentile

Anonymous said...

Good one...

Chris J