Let’s move beyond the pain

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I remember where I was when I heard about planes hitting the Twin Towers in New York City. The images of those buildings falling live in my mind and in the minds of millions of people around the world.

I see the reporter standing at the Pentagon talking into the camera even as a plane flew into that building. The goodbyes spoken between people in the plane that crashed in a field and their loved ones make my heart ache when I think about hearing them.

It was a horrifying day of death and sadness. We cried, mourned and felt helpless. I struggled with emotions trying to comprehend the hatred in the hearts of the people who caused this tragedy.

There was a sense for me that life changed that day and might never be the same again.

Now, I have the memory of where I was when I heard Osama bin Laden was dead. This man, the epitome of evil in the minds of so many, was at last gone from the world. No more would he call others to violence. No more would his hate of those he viewed as devils inspire followers to kill.

Still, I felt a strange sensation at reports of celebrations of his death and it was an uncomfortable place to stand. So many questions came into my head, so many contradicting thoughts.

On one hand, all I know from media about this man tell me hate was his motivation and surely even a little bit of hate removed from our world is a good thing. After all, you live by the sword you die by the sword, right. You reap what you sow, what goes around comes around. Thou shalt not kill. These phrases jumped into my head.

Then on the other hand, I thought beyond the bigger-than-life bin Laden to the man who was someone’s son, someone’s father, probably someone’s friend. Surely, at least one person mourned this human death as deeply as anyone can mourn a loss.

Other words popped into my consciousness. “Love your enemies, turn the other cheek, do unto others, and again thou shalt not kill …” It left me feeling a deep sadness, a sense of helplessness and a great deal of conflicting emotions.

So many questions arose. Does violence work positively on either side of an issue? Does resolution come from exacting retribution on another? Do we learn something, move to a higher place, and perhaps consider different ways of thinking and acting? Can we find more common ground and learn to live peacefully?

I do not have the answers to those questions, but maybe the importance is more in stopping to consider them than in jumping to answers.

Perhaps my best answer is to look at how the feelings stirred by these events change me. How will I chose to use the lessons that I think we learn from all of our experiences?

Things that happen in this world often confound me and cause me to look deeply into my heart. In the midst of thinking and questioning, I read a quote that expresses how I feel. I’ll end with it and with the hope that all of humanity moves beyond exacting pain as a means for solving problems or pushing beliefs and agendas forward.

“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.” – Jessica Dovey