Celebrate justice, not death

Published 8:19 pm Friday, May 6, 2011

It’s been nearly a week now since President Barack Obama announced the United States had caught and neutralized Osama bin Laden.

I was shocked like most Americans when the announcement came because I had no clue it was coming. After 10 years, I had almost given up hope.

There have been a myriad of reactions since it occurred and some of them have been good to see and others have been somewhat disappointing.

The American pride that has been shown throughout the country is a good thing. It is always exciting when we remember how blessed we are to be from this country.

The celebration of death, however, has been saddening to me.

I’m in the minority in that I am a Christian that opposes the death penalty. I’ve debated the issue with many of many fellow Christians throughout the years. I’ve never changed anyone’s mind and they’ve never changed mine.

Anyway, back to bin Laden.

I can’t say I was disappointed that our American military personnel killed bin Laden when they found him. Despite my personal opposition to the death penalty, there are people who I would probably strangle with my bare hands given the opportunity and he was one of them.

While I was glad that bin Laden could no longer plot the death and destruction of Americans, I could not in any way celebrate his death. I celebrated his capture and the end of his rein of terror, but not his death.

My Associate Pastor, the Rev. Webb Hoggard, tweeted something that stuck with me that Monday. It said, “Celebrate justice, not death.”

That kind of summed up how I had been feeling. I was troubled at how some people celebrated death. Some people even celebrated the fact they believe bin Laden was in hell.

As a Christian person, I believe he is as well, but I’m not happy about that fact and I certainly hope no Christian person is.

Monday I also talked to the Rev. Willie McLawhorn. Of all the people I know, Willie and his wife, Diane, have the right to an opinion about bin Laden, terrorists and the war in Afghanistan. Their son, Will, lost his life in the war on terror.

Much of what he told me wasn’t surprising.

He said he was glad bin Laden had been caught and that he had faced justice. He also said his son would have wanted to be part the team that took care of dispensing that justice.

McLawhorn said that as a minister and particularly as a Christian, he couldn’t celebrate the fact bin Laden was in hell. I admired and respected that.

I also took it to heart.

Sunday, American soldiers did what they had to do and I am proud of their work, their dedication and their service to our country. I am also satisfied that bin Laden has faced justice.

As the war on terror moves forward, we will capture and neutralize many more leaders of Al Qaeda. Each time I hope we will celebrate justice, not death.

Thadd White is a Staff Writer and Sports Editor for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be reached via email at thadd.white@r-cnews.com or by telephone at 332-7211.