head on a pike

I woke this morning to half-page headlines:  Bin Laden is dead.  Beneath the headline was a picture of jubilant Americans thrilling to the news that the shadowy nemesis was dead.

It is cathartic, this news.  The most powerful nation on earth has brought to justice the cypher of treachery that cost the lives and complacency of the world.

I find myself torn in the midst of all of this.  Extremism brought down those buildings and extremism planted fear in our hearts and full-body searches to our airports and extremism brought an awareness that a way of life lived mindlessly by many is deeply hated by so many more.  Bin Laden was the poster boy for extremism run amok.

And now he is dead.  And the streets of the Land of the Free are places of jubilant delight because now we have the corpse of the man who has come to epitomize evil.

Who are we?

We are people humbled by the efforts of Americans who spent years risking life and limb to ferret out Bin Laden.  We are people sigh-breathing because the notion that with all the power of our nation we could be thwarted; that notion was galling. We are a people happy to create larger-than-life heroes and villans, both.  We are a people desperate for a sign that our convictions are godly and our hearts true.

And we are a people sick of heart that while there have been evolvings aplenty through the centuries, we still seem to long for the heads of our enemies on a pike outside our city gates.

So yes, the headlines proclaim a victory.

And yes, as followers of The Way the benchmarks of our ethical success are measured by the ways we live beatitude lives.

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