Did we kill Osama Bin Laden or resurrect him?
Revenge tastes sweet: It makes you dance in the streets for a little while, especially when you rationalize it as “justice.” But has revenge ever solved a single problem?
Assassinating bin Laden stirred up the militant hornets again. The Taliban murdered scores of innocent Pakistanis in vengeance. We shattered our relationship with Pakistan. Navy SEALs now fear that someone will leak their families’ home addresses.
Bin Laden lured us into wars that bankrupted our treasury, exhausted our military, and undermined our Constitution. Now, in death, he continues to seduce us into the endless Middle Eastern cycle of retaliation.
Jesus spoke passionately about breaking this bloody cycle, in which both George W. Bush and Barack Obama have involved our nation. “Love your enemy,” Jesus said, using a new word for love, “agape.” It does not mean sentimental love, but compassionate listening, until we understand how it feels to be in our enemy’s shoes. “Pray for your persecutor . . . For those who live by the sword will die by the sword.”
Confucius offered the same wisdom centuries before Jesus: “Take revenge on your enemy and you dig two graves. Forgive, and you make two friends.”
We Americans have proven that we have the guts to retaliate. But do we have the courage to make peace?