Revenge, Celebrating Death and No Forgiveness!

by Julette


It’s safe to say that on a scale of 1 – 10, where forgiveness and/or reconciliation is a 10, revenge would be a 0. Celebrating in the streets over the death of a presumed violator, abuser or killer would be in the minus vicinity!

The recent reaction to the death of Osama bin Laden (OBL) – celebrating, bursting into song, camping outside the Whitehouse, etc, seems to be missing a critical point. We, the believers in good, love, life, light, freedom, human rights, etc, etc are supposed to represent these things we believe in by how we behave and think and react to challenging events and situations. We’re supposed to be champions of and advocates for the dignity of human life…isn’t that why we say we are so “happy” to have OBL gone? Isn’t it because he represented, we believe, the complete opposite of respect for life and human rights?

What message are we sending to those observing us – our children, other nations and of course historians?

This article in Psychology Today covers this irony very well.  Dr. Pamela Gerloff poses some penetrating questions:

The death of Osama Bin Laden gives us an opportunity to ask ourselves: What kind of nation and what kind of species do we want to be? Do we want to become a species that honors life? Do we want to become a species that embodies peace? If that is what we want, then why not start now to examine our own hearts and actions, and begin to consciously evolve in that direction? We could start by not celebrating the killing of another.

In order for actions to be taken by otherwise sane human beings, we do have to make sense of it to our own self…to avoid what is called ‘cognitive dissonance.’  So how do we rationalize our actions as we celebrate in the streets?

We say “justice” is achieved, we’re “safer” in a world without OBL, and victims now have “closure.”  Really? We can get very slick with how we deny the existence of plain old revenge and “getting even” when we don’t want to see ourselves in the light.

Intelligent, informed people know we are no safer today than last week and even  if  OBL’s capture and trial  was necessary for justice or closure, what does that have to do with barbarically celebrating his death in the streets? Didn’t we just cross over into the realm of two wrongs just don’t make a right?

Here’s the point and what motivated this blog, we have powerful stories of people (actual victims) forgiving the war crimes that wiped out entire families (their own) and ethnic groups.   It is in fact humanely possible to forgive what appears to be the unforgivable. When we do that, we do not condone or encourage wrong doings, as those intent on revenge would have us believe.

When we forgive heinous crimes, we leave space for lasting peace…who said this, “an eye for an eye, leaves the whole world blind?” I believe it was Mahatma Gandhi.

When a criminal – not just accused but convicted – is given a fair trial we send reverberations of justice throughout the world. We give other criminals less motivation and public support to continue their reign of terror at an ever higher and higher level. And even if they persist in the short run, we still have the joy of clear conscience and right example and choosing.

This is no ‘lady do rightly,’ ‘mushy feely’ sentiment. This is just common sense coupled with equal portions of spiritual, emotional, political and moral maturity and authority. 

America is young, granted. But I’m sad to see that we are still so immature.

I pray we grow up, practice what we preach and set right examples for the world to see.

A spirit of forgiveness can heal the world, one person and one people at a time while a focus on revenge only spreads hate and more revenge.

Martin Luther King summed it up this way “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” and my favorite, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

We need to grow up!

Wishing you peace, love and light,

Julette Millien


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