Killing a Killer to Stop KillingEssays, Featured — By Emily Timbol on May 6, 2011 at 2:00 pm
There are some things about myself that I have learned I just need to accept. Some of these things are fairly superficial, like my looks, or my unfaltering obsession with anything cheesy. Others are more rooted in my pysche. Like my need for alone time. And my need for sleep.
It’s this need for sleep that made Monday rough for me. Over the weekend, the two married couples I live with were invited to a friend’s house. One of the couples has an adorable cat that I absolutely love 90 percent of the time (the other 10 percent, I hate her for vomiting on my bed, which she really seems to like doing.) Since they were gone, she decided to sleep with me, and because cats are somehow simultaneously cute and evil, for three nights in a row she alternated between sweetly snuggling with me at night, and cruelly waking me up at 5:30am every morning by standing on my chest licking my face. Needless to say, I was really tired Sunday night.
Because I was so exhausted, I went to bed relatively early for me, and like I normally do, I quickly checked my news feeds on Facebook and Twitter before going to sleep. It was then that I first saw all my friends talking about Osama bin Laden’s death. I woke up my roommates, and we all sat in my room and watched as the President confirmed that he did indeed order a strike that killed Osama Bin Laden. I was shocked and surprised at how unsettled I felt. It seemed like I should have been happy that he was dead, but of all the emotions swirling through my head, happiness was nowhere to be found. I was entranced by the news though and found myself unable to turn it off, especially once the crowds started forming at the White House, Ground Zero, and Times Square.
It was surprising to see people celebrating so joyously the death of a person. Or should I say, surprising to see American people celebrating. They were celebrating the death of an evil, murderous person for sure, but still, thousands of people were cheering and taking to the streets to celebrate a death. I started to feel sad, almost like crying, and disgusted at my countrymen at the same time. Angry too.
I didn’t fall asleep until close to 3am, because I couldn’t stop watching the crowd of people swell, while at the same time posting my reactions on Facebook. Also, because I’m me, I stayed up to defend my posts and check to see if anyone was arguing with me (priorities, I don’t have them.) I woke up Monday morning feeling like a zombie, and moved through my day as if I was on drugs, totally out of it. The whole day all I could think about was five o’clock, when I’d be able to leave, go home, and take a nap.
When I finally pulled into the driveway of my house Monday night, two of my roommates pulled in right after me. By the time I got to the top of the stairs, two more got home as well. By the time I climbed into bed, my newest roommate was home, talking to my other ones in the hall. The front and back doors, which have a sensor that emits a very, very loud chime anytime someone uses them, kept being opened and closed. It was loud. It was impossible to sleep. I turned on my fan and white noise machine, but they didn’t drown out the voices. Especially because, after about 30 minutes of failed attempts to fall asleep, one of my roommates had three friends over. Then a guy who lives in the neighborhood dropped by. I’m a light sleeper, so a nap seemed pretty impossible at this point. Community living is not conducive to napping. I was so exhausted I was near tears, and at this point I wanted to be as far away from my house and “community” as possible, so I got dressed, went downstairs, and opened the door to leave, only to find my roommate’s twin brother, wife, and their three triplet daughters on the porch. They wanted to drop by to say hi. They are a wonderful family I love, but because I was so tired, I muttered something that was probably not terribly kind, and left.
If it hadn’t happened to me, I would have thought it was hilarious. Like a bad Everybody Loves Raymond episode (so, like any episode). But it was me, and so, I wasn’t laughing, I was angry and hating myself for agreeing to live in a place where it was impossible for me to take a nap. It didn’t occur to me at the time that God might have been allowing all that to teach me a lesson, but once I calmed down it hit me.
A need for sleep is something I can accept about myself, but anger and an inability to be loving when I am tired is not. A need to be rested is OK, impatiently reacting in anger as a result of not being rested is not. My need for something, as deeply rooted in my personality and psyche as it is, is not a justification for a behavior that dishonors God or my faith. Sometimes what we need does not justify what we do.
The thousands of people cheering Sunday night all over the USA (the ones that weren’t just drunk college kids) needed justice. They needed to feel that the person who was responsible for robbing them of their sense of security, or their loved ones, would be punished. They needed Osama to die.
What makes me feel so unsettled and sad is not this need for justice, because justice is what God is all about. Justice is His creation. What makes me feel so disconnected from other Americans is the fact that, to me, justice was not carried out by that bullet that went through Osama’s head.
Justice was carried out by Christ.
Osama bin Laden was, by all accounts, a man filled with evil, who ordered the death of thousands of innocent men, women, and children. He was a sinner. A sinner who did things much worse than you or me. Yet, there’s another person from the Middle East that came to mind when I thought of a leader famous for ordering the death of countless innocent men, and women.
The apostle Paul.
Before Jesus showed himself to Paul, he was a vigilant, violent murderer of Christian Jews. He sought them out, trained others to find them, and used his religion as justification for his evil. He was hated, feared, and surely wished dead by many, many, people. He was a terrorist.
Until. Until Jesus, who carried out perfect justice on the cross, showed himself to Paul. Until he let Paul see how horrible his actions truly were. And as we all know, Paul went from being a murderous terrorist, to one of the most influential and revered figures in Christianity. He authored numerous books in our Bible. He did immeasurable good, just years after immeasurable evil.
If you had asked a Christian what justice for Paul would have been before his conversion, it would most likely have been death. If Paul had been killed before his conversion, people would have celebrated, possibly in the streets. Paul killed innocent people, and Christ brought him to justice. Only, for Paul, Christ’s justice wasn’t death, it was love. Christ’s justice wasn’t ending his life, but starting it. Christ’s justice is something that, if applied to someone like bin Laden, makes people very, very uncomfortable. Because it doesn’t look like the world’s. Or America’s.
However, I’m not God, and I don’t claim to speak for him. It is entirely possible that in this scenario, God chose to carry out his justice with a bullet rather than love. It is entirely possible that God’s justice was to end Osama’s bin Laden’s life. Anything is possible with God. But the God that I know, from what I see in the Bible, is not a God who would want his people dancing in the streets to celebrate the death of a murderer.
He’s a God that would have wanted us praying for him to know Christ.