John Donne, some few years ago, thought that every human death was his own loss. And now Osama bin Laden is dead. And I have to admit, my immediate reaction was “Yay! At last!”
No sane person can deny that bin Laden was a murderous monster, who rejoiced in the death of random strangers – the more death the better. Worse, he thought that sacrificing thousands of human beings would please God, or his idea of God. And on a milder level, he and his followers would surely hold that I, as a woman, should be put under house arrest from late childhood till death, and forced to hide my face like a criminal if ever I contaminated the public streets by appearing in them. He was my enemy.
And I am told to love my enemy. It isn’t easy. Really, does his death diminish me?
Not the fact of it. What would diminish me is wallowing in it as if it was a tub of warm scented bubble bath, rejoicing in death. This man was a gifted leader, an intelligent, educated, capable person, who wasted all the abilities he could have used to improve his world and mine. That’s something to mourn.
Besides, there’s my preferred revenge fantasy, the one that will never come true. Oh, to see bin Laden standing trial in a western court, with a female judge, forced to treat her with respect, forced to follow the rules of a civilization he longed to destroy. It won’t happen. And maybe it doesn’t matter now. Maybe the world is moving past his bizarre dreams that tried to mingle sixth century rules of conduct with the latest of weapons. Maybe the new dreams of the Arab Spring, of an Egypt and a Tunisia (and God willing, many more countries) where people can find ways to share their world without killing everyone who disagrees with them will come true.
Osama bin Laden is dead. The world has one less talented, evil man in it, and that’s a good thing. And may God have mercy on his soul.