Bin Laden Is Killed: Let Us Pray, Not Celebrate

On September 11, 2001, we became aware of the existence of
Al Qaeda, and in that moment, Americans were forced to recognize that within
the Arab world, there was a seething resentment against the West: a seething
resentment against Western colonial history in the Middle East; a seething
resentment against the disempowerment of Arab people in a world dominated by
foreign economic interests; and a seething resentment of our self-centered,
arrogant stance toward others.  Stung by
the collective anger toward us, we went into a defensive posture and took no
accountability for the realities that had spawned the attack.

Few took even a moment to question why the tragedy occurred.
Instead, how quickly did we condemn Al Qaeda and Muslims, and how little did we
explore the sources of their rage. How consistently did we condemn the
perpetrators, but how rarely did we investigate why their organizations were
attractive to so many young people who dedicated their lives to their cause. Ignorant
and defensive, we demonized our opponents and labeled them terrorists, as
though that label explained everything. And amazingly, large numbers of us were
swept up in the stance that large numbers of Arabs and Muslims are different,
not regular folk, who, like us, wake up every day with a desire for love,
respect and a sense of value, just like we do. No, Al Qaeda and their supports
were simply “terrorists” led by a monster, and that was the end of the story.

So here we are in 2011. Have we yet taken advantage of the
tragedy of 9/11 to see the deeper tragedy of humanity’s callous behavior toward
others, especially those of different nations, races or religions? Have we
acknowledged that in our personal lives and on our globe, ego begets ego,
negativity begets negativity? And are we now ready to wake up to the fact that
we can’t protect ourselves only by building fortresses and that we need to
protect ourselves by creating good will?

It’s never too late to become more conscious. While in no
way condoning terrorism, we can still ask the question: Why? Why were these people
angry? We can still remember our oneness and see that 9/11 was a wakeup call that
reminds us that we are one world and that when you hurt other people, they may
come back and attack you, even where you think you are safe. We can still reach
out our hands to others in our personal and collective lives and try to
understand, rather than to condemn.

Today, Osama bin Laden, the symbol of Arab resentment and
revenge, is dead. Has the resentment died with him? In fact, how will this
latest killing impact the negative view of our nation? Fortunately for us, the
Middle East is in the grip of its own revolution, and bin Laden is not a symbol
of that revolt. Perhaps we will have avoided creating even more anger toward

Only time will tell. In the midst of this revolutionary era,
some people may focus on our democratic legacy, and that may override the sad
history of colonialism and exploitation. On the other hand, suspicion still
runs deep because of a history of economic and political exploitation, and the
killing of bin Laden might just add a deeper resentment. In addition, people in
the Middle East also have ego agendas, and some may posture depending on
political expediency.

Whatever happens to our “reputation,” the more important question
is this: Are we in fact learning anything about ourselves and about the need to
co-create a mutually supportive world? I hope so.

I feel sad about the death of bin Laden. I cannot celebrate
the killing of anyone, and more than that, I fear the potential loss of our
opportunity to learn the lessons of history. Do we see what we did? When 9/11
struck us with awe and terror, most of us dropped into a fear-based posture
that led us to be manipulated by our own government, so that we abandoned our
own civil rights and allowed ourselves to be led blindly into an unjustified
and costly war in Iraq. Most of us descended into greater racism against Arabs
and Muslims. And many of us rationalized away a continued ego-driven view of
the world, where we are “good,” everyone who opposes our agendas and interests
is “evil,” and no thought or self-reflection is required.

Doesn’t all this point to the same lessons we need to learn
about ourselves personally? Can we more consistently look at our own part in
any painful experience, instead of being so quick to blame others? Can we
achieve new levels of self-awareness, and can we make amends?

We have yet to make amends to the peoples of the world that
we have disregarded and exploited through blatant self-interest. We have barely
acknowledged our terrorism toward African slaves, the poor, women, children and
our own Native American populations. Are we waiting for others to take the lead
in becoming more conscious? Do we want the “terrorists” to do it?  Who will take accountability first?

Why don’t we take this moment to pray together that no human
being be treated in an oppressive way; that no people’s resources be grabbed
for the benefit of others; that no one’s crimes be justified; and that the
circumstances that led to the rise of Osama never happen again.

Let us pray that each one of us becomes more conscious and
that, individually and collectively, we become more willing to be aware and
accountable. That I would celebrate.


  1. Erica Wood-Taylor says

    I’m so glad you wrote this. I was not celebrating his death either. The reports were immediate that we would now be on alert once more – to wait for the retaliation. The lines to get on and off the base at Camp Pendleton are reportedly longer and slower than they have been in years.

    There is no new and sudden peace with this measure of ‘justice’. I feel more relief from your call for accountability than I will ever feel from further violence and destruction.

    I will join in that prayer with you and you and you and you.

  2. Theresa says

    Bravo, Beth! In the midst of Americans cheering for the murder of Bin-Laden and many others around him, I couldn’t help but feel that not only does violence-beget-violence but that the majority of the nation is celebrating death at our hands – is that really the U.S.’s values? Is this what we want our children to learn about the world and how to resolve difficult issues? That all the small miracles that happen around us every day don’t get reported or highlighted because American’s are blood-thirsty (aka ego-driven)?

    The fact is, images on the news channels last night of the countless celebrators in front of the White House looked no different than the images of other citizens in nations against the West celebrating in their streets – men, women and children – that we effortlessly use as fuel for our fire to seek them out and make them pay for taking action against us.

    I believe there is a real opportunity to learn from those that spend their lives figuring out how to hurt us – and that Bin-Laden was more valuable to humanity alive. It saddens me that our government lost the chance to inspire the world with a more conscious and humane action.

    So thank you, Beth, for your insight and courage to speak up and out and help put this event into a more conscious perspective.



  3. says

    Thank you, Beth, for the accurate assessment of the situation. We can always count on be clear about how to use reality to learn. Your courage inspires me, the courage to tell the truth no matter what. When I posted the blog on Facebook, I felt my fear come up, fear of raising the ire of opponents, but I don’t want that to stop me and I didn’t. Thanks for the support to take a stand for the Oneness. May more of us do so every day!

  4. says

    I don’t think people are celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden as much as they are experiencing a sense of releif and completion of the fear that began on 9/11 and has premeated our culture since that time. Yes, there is still a grave threat and yes, there may be actions taken in response to his being found and killed. However, the sense of victimhood has been lessened. I appreciate Beth’s views and it would be nice if we lived in peace and harmony, but we also have to embrace the reality in which we live. We can ask the questions Why? as she suggest and still take responsible action to see that justice is done for the mass murder of thousands of our citizens. Bin Laden put his face on the attack in 2001 and I think his death will have a positive impact on people being able to distinguish between his actions and all other muslims. In the absence of the person to blame (he did claim responsibility for the attacks at the time) being brought to justice a culture of everyone is to blame who looks anything like him emerged. I pray that this is the beginning of the end of the racism and discrimination that has run rampant since 2001.

  5. Sandy Golnick says

    Thank you, Beth, for expressing what I was feeling as well. Killing begets killing AND LOVE BEGETS LOVE. What are we looking for? When Obama was elected our President, the mood was of hope and for a world of peace. We must all look within ourselves and find that what is happening is “I am that” and take responsibility for that and bring compassion to all of us as one.

    Thank you, Sandy

  6. Rosenilyne Hopson says

    Truly the question is if it is not “We” or “I” who is willing to be the first to say enough is enough then who will be. Yes people may be dancing in the streets because they no longer have to “fear” bin Laden – but that is only until the next new “fear” arises. Until we are told that some other group or individual wants to hurt us so that we will have some place to direct the underlying fear that we have all been trying to escape – the fear of disconnection from ourselves and ultimately Source. Someone has to say it is time for something different – We can’t, I can’t keep doing the same things and hoping to have a different result and neither can our nation or our planet. So I whole heartedly repeat the prayer that Beth spoke – because our awakening to what is truly possible if we are willing to connect to our sameness is something truly worth celebrating.

  7. Mary Stine says

    Could even half of the Jews slaughtered in WWII have been saved if Hitler had been killed in 1941?? Even after Hitler’s death and the Allied Victory, there are still Fascists and neo Nazis today…BUT, and it is a big one, there also ARE Jews still walking, working and praying among us. Thank God!!
    I agree with Beth that this is a sad commentary on human weakness and that the greater work is yet to be done….and Beth has the beginning of the path illuminated.

    • admin says

      I understand your thoughts, Mary. And think of this: If the West had not tried to humiliate and disempower the Germans after WWI, there would have been no Hitler. That’s what we learned from our experience after WWII, isn’t it? So the point is not to use ultimate force after we have co-created the war. It’s to use our understanding of ourselves and other humans to at least attempt to not create the war to start with. That’s the point of the bin Laden article as well. Thanks for writing.

      • Mary Stine says

        You are so correct, Beth, about WW1–the desolation and starvation of the German people was unnecessary and cruel–and made it possible for so many desparate people to believe in a madman….and buy into his rabid-fear agenda. Only too late did many people realize the monster that fear agenda had become.
        Sir Winston Churchill and FDR were correct–we have more to fear from fear itself than any enemy.

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