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Reveling in Death

 

By; Paul Murano – May, 2011

The Bin Laden saga has illustrated to the world two ugly manifestations of the hate that lurks in the hearts of men. The first happened ten years ago on 9/11 when it resulted in over 3,000 innocent people being killed. The second came last week when countless people partied into the night with utter glee at the killing of human being.

You can’t compare the killing of innocent people with the vengeful gloating over a killer’s death, however you can compare the ugly vile that infects souls in both. This constant gloating and reveling over Bin Laden’s death is NOT simply an expression of contentment that justice was done, nor is it an expression of relief that this man can no longer do damage; the utter glee we have been exposed to on the streets, on talk radio, and throughout the media since Bin Laden was killed is clearly the expression of a deep hatred being fed and satisfied by this man’s death.

Like hurricane Katrina served as an excuse for many to release their inner darkness by assaulting and looting people and businesses, Bin Laden’s death was also used as an excuse for a cathartic release of the darkness many harbor within. Even if his death was just and a necessary evil, the unabashed reveling over it shows the amount of evil in our own hearts and illustrates how uncivilized we really are.

I first remember seeing this kind of vile attitude while living in Florida at the time Ted Bundy was being executed. I thought it extremely odd and distasteful that there were crowds of non-stop partying the day of this man’s execution. He had already been captured and safely locked up years.

Why is this kind of reveling in the death of a proven killer so wrong? We must begin by recognizing the intrinsic worth of all people as human beings, not human doings. By virtue of our personhood everyone is an image of God. Although we desecrate ourselves by choosing evil we may become bad persons, but never non-persons. Desecrated images, but never non-images. There remains a minimal human dignity regardless of how morally diminished we become, and when we ridicule and desecrate an image of God we indirectly do it to God. A gleeful reveling over the death of our enemy is hardly a manifestation of a love, but rather a clear sign of spiritual sickness.

During a debate I had as co-host of the Paying Attention radio program on WHAV radio with a caller and the main talk host, they continuously brought up peripheral issues that had little to do with my point: We were at war, the world is safer without him, he didn’t deserve to live, we should be relieved he is gone, etc. These things may be true but didn’t address my point. When I was finally able to cut through the forced fog I gave each of them a question. To the caller who stated he was Catholic I asked him that since we are called to love our enemy while protecting ourselves from him if necessary, what does it mean to love our enemy when it is Bin Laden?

He tried his hardest to divert from giving an answer but finally offered something non-nonsensical and contradictory. To the host I asked this: Although it may be highly improbable, if a mass murderer were to sincerely and deeply repent at the end of his life and is willing to make as many amends as humanly possible, but ends up dying the next day, would you hope that he ends up in heaven? After much hemming and hawing he finally said no. Why? To him the killer has irreversibly lost his humanity, can not be forgiven, has zero value, and should be treated as trash. Unfortunately this seems to be the attitude of most people. It explains the cartoon picture on his facebook page visited by many of the statue of liberty holding the bloody head of Bin Laden instead of her flaming torch.

I firmly believe that if the victims of 9/11 are now in heaven they are very disappointed in the vile attitude displayed in their name at the death of a human being, even if it was the mastermind of an unspeakable evil.

Paul Murano

Paul Murano

Paul Murano teaches philosophy at North Shore Community College and theology at the College of Saint Mary Magdalen. He is host of Beneath the Surface television show at Burlington Cable Access TV and is co-host of the Paying Attention! radio program. Paul is also chairman of Heartbeat Pregnancy Help center in Burlington and is a singer/songwriter/musician.

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