This morning's paper headlined the killing of Osama bin Laden somewhere in Pakistan, the work of operatives who have been stalking him for years. It also highlighted the death of Seif al-Arab Muammar el-Qaddafi, son of Muammar Qaddafi, in a bombing raid on Qaddafi’s headquarters in Libya.
The violent death of the former is being hailed as a long sought victory in the war on terror. The death of the latter, at age 29, along with his three children, all under the age of three, is seen as unavoidable collateral damage.
Humanity’s efforts at solving problems by slaughtering enemies reminds me of a time many years ago when I was reading our very young daughter the story of David slaying the evil giant Goliath. At the dramatic point in the story when Goliath falls, I didn’t get the expected approving response from our three-year-old. Instead, I noticed tears in her eyes.
Taken by surprise, I asked, “What about the story makes you sad?”
“Well, because Goliath was still a person,” she insisted.
Out of the mouths of babes, I thought to myself. No matter how despicable our enemy, no matter how indefensible and inexcusable their behavior, each one is still someone’s son or daughter, or may be someone’s father or mother, someone's sibling or friend. And each human being is still one of God’s loved creations, no matter how awful their deeds.
We tend to forget that. In our desire for justice, we all too often pursue only vengeance.