Such a reaction is understandable given the tedious hunt our military has conducted. We should applaud them and their families for the sacrifices they have made, that they continue to make. It is through their relentless efforts, their unwavering commitment to duty, their love of country and each other that this particular mission has been accomplished.
Certainly the families of those slain in that Pennsylvania field, that Virginia military complex, and those New York City twin towers on 9-11 have earned the right to raise their hands in jubilation that the man who masterminded the slaughter of their loved ones has now met a justifiable end.
There are some who are rejoicing because they believe that the death of Bin Laden will usher the world into a new era of peace. In an interview with CNN, Peter Bergen said that Bin Laden’s death is huge. “Killing Bin Laden is the end of the war on terror,” Bergen declared.
But here, in this household, the news of Bin Laden’s death was not met with fists pumps or high fives. The news laid me out flat. Forehead to the floor.
Praying. Weeping. More praying.
Yes. I’m grateful that our military has stopped Bin Laden. If there is one thing I understand completely it is the sacrifices our nation’s military have made. It was for them and their families I prayed. Because if there was ever a time when our military and their families needed our prayers, it is now. Bergen might think that Bin Laden’s death represents an end on the War on Terror, but I can assure you that he is wrong.
While Obama was announcing Bin Laden’s death, our nation’s military bases were put on a heightened security status. Retaliation is a given. Anyone who thinks otherwise does not understand what we are up against.
A War on Terror is not about capturing people and killing them. It’s about capturing the heart of a people and changing it. Until we understand that, we can’t possibly defeat it.
Bin Laden’s death, while justified, doesn’t mark the end to the reign on terror. In fact, it could very well serve as a fire-starter, building animosity against us. It’s easy enough to mark Bin Laden up as a nut job. Whacked. Three bricks shy of a load. It’s tougher to consider that a boy who had been raised in a good home – a home where faith was preached and practiced, a home where education was encouraged and lauded, a home where charity was instilled and cultivated – grew up to hate so much. But then, again, we only have to look at Virginia Tech or Columbine to find our own homegrown terrorists.
Yes, there is a collective sigh of relief we share over the death of Bin Laden. One more evil man stopped dead in his tracks. But once this frat party ends, we are still faced with the unanswered questions: Why did Bin Laden hate us so? What were the reasons he wanted to harm us? Was it our values and the faith we tout so frequently, as some have suggested? Or our hypocrisy that fueled his wrath towards us? Is there a better, more productive way to diffuse the wrath of terrorists, a way that won’t require the lives of thousands of troops, and the loss of limbs and brain function to hundreds of thousands of others?
Because if there isn’t, it seems to me that Bin Laden’s death will not usher in a new era of prolonged peace. Instead, it will only ensure there will be more slaughter to follow as those seeking to avenge his death follow our lead, as we sought to avenge the deaths of those lost on 9-11.
This isn’t the way to peace. This is tit-for-tat retribution. And as relieved as the families of 9-11 may be, it will not bring back their loved ones. The death of one terrorist, no matter how mighty, will not put an end to the nightmares they endure daily. Nor does it ensure that other Americans won’t share their same fate someday soon. We can’t turn back the clock. Bin Laden’s legacy is that the terror lives on –in our hearts and at our airports. Our world will never feel as safe as it did prior to 9-11.
I hope once all this revelry ends, you’ll join me in prayer for our troops, for our nation, and for the pursuit of peace that provides understanding.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of After the Flag has been Folded, Wm. Morrow.