The chants and cheers echoed in college bars, sports stadiums, and public streets across the country. Terrorist leader Osama bin Laden was dead from two bullets through the head, courtesy of our finest soldiers, the Navy Seals.
President Obama spoke of Bin Laden getting what he “deserved.” And one New York Times columnist captured the feelings of many citizens when she declared her joy at Bin Laden’s death, because she wanted “memory, and justice, and revenge.”
Since the raid that killed Bin Laden, his death has been a continued hot topic for debate among columnists, political leaders, and ordinary citizens. I’ve heard callers to radio talk shows make comments like these:
On the one hand: “Was it right for us to shoot Bin laden? He was unarmed!” And on the other: “They should have cut off his fingers, one by one, and tortured him first!”
Parents face important questions from their children: Was it right to kill him? Should we celebrate? Why or Why Not?
For some, these are tough questions – and they are complicated by the times in which we live.
We are at war against a formidable enemy. We face the continual threat of death-dealing terrorism, both here and abroad. And too many of our own courageous soldiers and helpless civilians have already been killed. We abhor the violence that claimed them even as we admire their bravery in defense of our freedom.
At the same time, our popular culture seems to be feeding its appetite for random violence and cruel killings. Revenge-taking, torture, and hurting others for the sake of the perpetrator’s amusement are common themes in the entertainment world of video games, TV dramas, music videos, and even reality shows. And in this morally relativistic climate, few are willing to say that’s wrong.
As parents, we need to help our children see the difference between self-defense and gratuitous violence—and between justice and hate-fueled revenge.
How to Save Your Family: Teach Justice, Not Revenge
Bin Laden was brought to justice on this Earth – and true justice is a moral virtue. Our children should have no doubt about that. And if ever there was a “teachable moment” on the difference between justice and revenge, this is it.