On the Killing of Osama Bin Laden

Several recent articles and commentaries have been critical of the “celebration” of the death of Osama Bin Laden, including some by spiritually-oriented individuals. I think much of this talk misses the point. It is perfectly OK and quite appropriate to celebrate the prospect of increased peace and security that Osama’s capture and death represent. And I think this, not his killing, motivated many of those who participated in the spontaneous and joyous gatherings.

Ideally, of course, the killing of anyone should not be intended or celebrated. I refer you to my Rendering Harmless Doctrine on www.desmoinesmeditation.org, listed as an article on the right. It would have recommended capture, trial, imprisonment, and rehabilitation, then release if rehabilitation was quite certain and life imprisonment if not, and not a punitive, retaliatory, vengeful, or strategically intended killing.

Unfortunately, humanity has not yet evolved to a universal mindset that realizes that intentionally committed violence by a perpetrator or a nation stems from ignorance, anger, and/or a desire for vengeance, and requires a response based on understanding, love, and compassion if the cycle of suffering and violence begetting violence is to be ended.

Hopefully someday, the prevailing attitudes of society will be so transformed that wisdom and compassion will spontaneously motivate all our thoughts, speech, and actions. Even then, as Philosopher Ken Wilber points out, not everyone will be capable of such development, for a multitude of genetic, physical and mental health, parenting, socialization, and cultural reasons. Society will always require some entity to maintain its regulations and laws, but it will act with lovingkindness and compassion. Meanwhile, let us acknowledge and intentionally avoid acting out our shortcomings and aspire to our highest potential, to realize our enlightened Buddha-nature. Peace, Charlie