In all kinds of hatred there is a separation by which each misjudges the other. In all kinds of love there is a mystic union by which each knows the other.
It’s past 2 am and I should be asleep after a long day. But I couldn’t rest, because of the unease I had at the news of the death of Osama bin Laden. I found some peace in the words above, written by James Allen in one of his lesser-known books, Eight Pillars of Prosperity.
After watching the statement from President Obama, I put the following post on my Facebook page:
US troops have killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Thank you to our troops, intelligence officers, Presidents Bush and Obama and all of our allies. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to you all.
It had almost a hundred “likes” in a matter of minutes and comments started streaming in below it immediately. Cornelia sad it sickened her and suggested I was a bad Christian because I was rejoicing in the death of another. Others quoted the Bible, justifying fighting fire with fire. Yet others celebrated the death and took the chance to make jokes about it.
Even at this hour, boats in the bay are blowing their air horns in celebration. TV is showing wild celebrations at the White House and at Ground Zero. I’m sure Toby Keith is already writing his next testosterone-brimming anthem about it, and Country radio stations are salivating to put it in heavy rotation.
But is this a time for celebration and rejoicing? Is there any prosperity consciousness in that?
I think not. In disclosure I should state I was vehemently opposed to the foreign policy of former President Bush and believe it fostered a great deal of hatred in the Muslim world. And as I replied to Cornelia, I don’t rejoice in the death of anyone, even a person as despicable and evil as Osama Bin Laden. I do rejoice that he no longer can mastermind more attacks that will murder more innocent civilians. But this isn’t time for a party.
Had some of the plots against Adolf Hitler succeeded, many thousands or perhaps even millions of lives would have been saved. Hitler’s death was announced on this same exact date in 1945. But had I been alive then, I wouldn’t have seen that as cause for a party either.
The fact that we have Hitler’s, bin Laden’s, Gadhafi’s and Castro’s tells me that we’ve lost the plot. Maybe their deaths are the highest good for the human race. I don’t know, and it’s not for me to decide. But I do know a night like tonight isn’t a cause to party and celebrate. It would better serve us to pause and reflect on how we ever let things get this far off course to begin with.
Sympathy and empathy, which are truly some of the purest forms of love, would lead us to look into the hearts of our brothers and sisters around the world. To seek to understand and accept, and find that union that Allen wrote of.
The true message of Islam is love. As is the true messages of Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Shinto, Confucianism, Taoism, and other major religions.
We’ve let organized religion get sidetracked with doctrines and dogma. And in some circles we’ve let this all get portrayed as a war between Islam and the West. But that perception isn’t truth, and it’s keeping the world from experiencing true prosperity.
Confucius taught that enlightenment came from perfecting five virtues. He expressed them in one: Reciprocity. Buddha taught enlightenment came from eight virtues. And he reduced these down to one: Compassion.
Tao, or the path, teaches that people are good by nature, and that one should be kind to others simply because. Zoroastrians dedicate their lives to a three-fold path represented by their motto: “Good thoughts, good words, good deeds.”
The Jews also believe in the inherent goodness of the world and its inhabitants. They see everyone as creations of God who do not require a savior to save them from original sin. True followers of Shinto desire peace and believe all human life and nature is sacred. The five pillars of Islam would bring anyone closer to peace. Hindus seek salvation in selfless acts and thoughts. Jesus reduced everything to the principle of love.
Today an evil man has died. But instead of breaking out the champagne and party favors, maybe we should break out the prayer books and reflect on those virtues of reciprocity, compassion, good deeds, peace, goodness, salvation and love.
When we can do that, then it’s really time for the party!