A Call to Healing following the death of Osama Bin Laden

May 4, 2011 @ 09:37 am by Jacqui Lewis

On Monday morning, May 2, I woke to the news of Osama Bin Laden's death at the hands of US Military forces. My first thoughts went to my family; my brother is an Army Colonel, who now works for the Under Secretary of Defense. He served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, flying helicopters to keep other soldiers safe. We held our breath almost every day that he was away. Most of his troops survived their tours of duty, but every single death was a nightmare for their families and for my brother Ron, their commander. So many lives have been lost: soldiers on both sides of the war, women, children and old folk who just happen to be in the line of fire. Even more people have been wounded, seen their lives disrupted, or become refugees of the war on terror.

There is a huge cost to war. There is a huge cost to terror.

Every single person who lost their life on September 11, 2001 was a tremendous tragedy, a huge loss of life and presence. Their families, friends, loved ones, coworkers; their companies, their synagogues, churches and mosques lost the uniqueness of that person, that soul. As a nation, we lost something that I think we can't quite talk about. Something like faith in our borders, like self perception as unassailable. We were outraged, stunned. And after the shock, many of us became keenly aware of the way our global neighbors see us. This tragedy heightened our resolve to commit to interfaith dialogue and understanding.

There is a huge cost to terror. There is a huge cost to war. Billions of dollars in spending, the alienation that resulted when extremists turned planes into bombs and many of us turned our suspicions of what we do not know into fear and hatred. And in the midst of the anger and grief, what has given me hope is the ways communities have committed to connect across religious and ethnic differences to walk to the future hand in hand, like the apostle Paul says, "forgetting what lies behind [us] and pressing on to the... upward call..."

I admit that I felt deep in the pit of my stomach a sorrow at this news, and a concurrent feeling of relief. Osama Bin Laden is no longer out there, eluding authorities and adding to the grief and fear of so many people. I am also really disappointed at the celebratory tone we have seen in these past days. I have, though, been heartened by the reflections of the people in our community--somber, hopeful that a new day is dawning.

I have hopes. I hope for healing and for the end of war. I hope that a new Middle East is emerging and along with that a new consciousness about what it means to be a global neighbor; that we will respect the sovereignty of nations, that we will see ourselves as inextricably connected. I hope that we will, as a nation, understand the impact our policies have on the little Muslim girl in Pakistan and on the Muslim shop-owners in Brooklyn.

And while I hope, I pray thanksgiving that my brother is alive--it is really personal at that level. And I pray prayers of comfort for those who are not so fortunate as me, who will never see their loved one again.

It might be a radical act of love to pray for Bin Laden's family; perhaps we could add that to our prayers for peace, for safety from retaliation, and revenge, and for continued interfaith connections.

I am not Muslim, but I am calling us to prayer. Prayer and acts of justice-making will heal our world.

About This Blog

Preparing ethical leaders for a just society. Posts by Jacqui Lewis, Senior Minister.

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