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  • Rejoicing in Justice Done

    My 8-year-old son saw the news reports about Osama bin Laden’s death buzzing Monday on our TV.

    He took particular note of scenes of cheering crowds: flag-wavers in Times Square and at Ground Zero in New York City, baseball fans in Philadelphia, patriots in Boston, enthusiastic students on college campuses. All were clapping, smiling and chanting in response to the news that U.S. Navy SEALs had cornered and killed the world’s most wanted terrorist.

    My son wondered about the cheering, concluding that it was OK because “this man killed thousands of others.” His questions gave us an opportunity to talk about war, terrorism and, most importantly, justice.

    Perhaps many Christians shared my son’s initial uncertainty since hearing of bin Laden’s demise. Surely it’s a good thing that he no longer is able to lead murderous schemes. But what exactly are we cheering about?

    Hadn’t my 8-year-old heard me talking little more than a week before, on Good Friday, about forgiveness?

    Perhaps he was trying to connect the dots between the cheering on TV about a man’s death and his Sunday school teacher’s words about turning the other cheek. His mother and I have tried, on occasion, to teach our son to pray for his enemies (which, in second grade, usually means the boy who broke your Legos).

    And yet the success of American forces in finally ending this particular man’s reign of terror is an act of justice that even a child can recognize.

    Western civilization is heir to a rich “just war” tradition of wrestling with the morality of war. This tradition can help us navigate these kinds of sentiments.

    The idea of a just war recognizes the legitimacy of using military force to respond to injustice when ordinary political means aren’t available or effective. The Christian doctrine of just war brings moral principles to bear on decisions about when and how to wage armed conflict.

    For example, military action must be waged by a proper authority. It must have a reasonable probability of success. And it must distinguish between combatants and civilians.

    A just war also is one undertaken with the right intention—not hatred or revenge, but justice.

    These and other principles of just war arose out of Christian convictions about the value of human life, social order and the rule of law. They track with the biblical responsibility for governments to punish wrongdoers and administer justice. Scholars of the doctrine point out that, when appropriately used, armed combat aims to bring about a peaceful and just social order for both sides of the conflict.

    Bin Laden long undermined these goals and standards of justice. He recklessly ignored the value of human life. He organized terrorist attacks on American citizens and institutions, among many others. He called for jihad in the name of revenge and religious hatred. He targeted innocent civilians.

    Ideally, established political means would enable the U.S. government to respond to these injustices. But in the absence of such means, the tradition of just war views armed conflict as an appropriate way to resist evil, protect innocent lives and restore just social relationships.

    I didn’t go into detail about all these principles with my 8-year-old son. Nor did I have enough knowledge of the raid in Pakistan to apply them point by point. But knowing the tradition enabled me to help my son sort out his reactions to bin Laden’s death.

    I was able to remind him that acting out of vengeance or hatred is wrong, but that we are called to seek justice. The cheering in our home is not gloating over someone’s death. Rather, it is celebrating the fact that a terrorist’s murderous acts have been judged wrong, and he won’t be committing them again.

    Justice has been done. May it continue to guide the actions of America’s citizens and government both at home and abroad in the face of evil and injustice.

    Cross-posted at FirstThings.com

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to Rejoicing in Justice Done

    1. Zach, VA says:


      I recently joined the Heritage Foundation and they don't plague me at all. The only regular emails I get I suscribed to.

    2. George Colgrove VA says:

      Justice? We got one guy who is likely retired from terrorism.

      Excuse me for a minute while I keep my eye on the ball.

      What about what the US government has done to the future of this country? When is that justice going to be dealt with? When are we going to stop the madness going on here?

      Enough with the self-congratulatory pats on our backs. With all the hard drives we got, the computers and flash drives, why were we not hitting targets hard and heavy in the last 48 hours. I was really expecting to see reports of successive hits – but all we see is "WE GOT THE MAN!" This war could have been essentially over. Why does it take the overpaid federal workforce in the analyst rooms so long to do their jobs?!?

      While we celebrate the death of OBL, our enemy is packing up and moving. With their locations no longer secret, they are on the move. That intel we gathered loses importance every minute – every second – we do not act upon it. The local people are saying that OBL's compound was not all that secret and we have found out that OBL was living there for 6 year. We are also told that it took 8 months to make sure he lived in a non-secret location and that once all was known; it took the Commander in Chief over 16 hours to think about it. I think we need to move much faster than we are. It likely took the CIA federal workforce 24 hours to draft a request for a half a trillion dollars to supplement their fraudulent retirement system once they saw a problem. But this stuff? I feel this federal workforce would have never got out of the gate in WWII.

      If you ask me, it is looking like we are purposely dragging this thing out for maximum payout. After 10 years and over $7 trillion dollars and $300 to $400 billion annual payouts to defense contractors and 300,000 new DoD union federal workers and a DoD administration that is growing out of control requiring edifices to be built to the tune of several billions of dollars and moreover a looming $14.3 trillion national debt this "accomplishment" is looking pretty small.

      America has had a taste for blood since 9/11. Call it justice – OK. We have Justice. However, it has just been delivered at a massive cost of thousands of soldiers lives (over 900 since Obama took over and over a 1,000 more people that died from the original atacks on 9/11), trillions of dollars out of our treasury both now and for decades to come, but also in programs like NASA which is slowly going on mothballs, our dollar is near junk status, over 15 million people are out of work, 13% of our homes are empty, 1 in 6 people are in poverty, over half of our population gets a government check in one way or another, and we have greedy public workers now working against the greater good but rather for their own personal gain. On top of that we will likely be hit with massive tax increases rather than federal government cuts to pay for it all.

      The Taliban, years ago said that their primary goal was to bankrupt the USSR – they succeeded. They have also said that they want to do the same to America. Well with the cooperation of the federal workforce, even though it looks like as we got the king pin – they ended up winning the war. Terror still exists in greater amounts today meaning OBL aside we have not accomplished anything. With our economy about to enter an abyss, it looks like the Taliban has succeeded.

      Where it took the Taliban decades to erode the USSR, it took less than 10 years to take out the US economy – why? They had the perfect weapon – greedy federal workers and elected officials looking to fill their pockets.

      Now that we have OBL at the depths of some ocean, lets get some justice on federal waste, fraud and taxpayer abuse.

    3. Gary Cody, The Peopl says:

      I fully support our military and those that serve in it. However, I do not support the mission to which we have them assigned. The War on Terror? Let's be honest. If we are going to fight the war on terror, we need to do it from our door steps, not in Iraq and the other 200 or so countries where we have military presence. I, for one, do not believe there is a "war on terror", at least a "war" that we are trying to win.

      There are many things we could do that would be much more productive than what we are doing now.

      For one, we should be focusing on a goal of becomming energy independent: Drill here, drill now. Build Nuclear Powerstations. Stop letting the big oil company lobbist, the radical environmentalist movements, and many of the less than brilliant politicians in the district of corruption dictate our energy policies.

      We should bring our troop home and establish a presence on the border to preclude the invasion by illegals. Not to mention drug smuggling.

      We should also take a look at who our enemies really are. Should we be allowing uncontrolled entry of muslims? I think not.

      Should we continue to allow the traitors in the district of corruption to bankrupt our country and destroy our currency? I think not.

      Should we not eliminate the fed and return to a gold backed dollar to stabilize our money and choke off the deficit spending that allows the criminal elements in the district of corruption to spend our great grandchildrens money without any controls? I think we should.

      End the wars in which the globalist have us fighting and bring our troops home NOW. Get the hell out of the middle east where we have not business except the oil.

    4. Stirling, Pennsylvan says:

      The rejoicing did seem a bit strange to me also when I initially saw it. Are we any better then the Islamic fundementalists when they celebrate the dealth of American's in the streets of their cities (which is seen in the news plenty of times in the past.) Have we taken the "High Road" or have we reduced ourselves to the level of our enemies in the process? What separates us from the middle eastern theocracies/dictatorships is the rule of law and the constitution which treats all people equal and protects us from government over-reaching of our freedoms and natural rights. If a government can "Target" an individual (granted a terrorist), who is to say that it can not "target" those that are not with their political views. It's a slippery slope we walk in defending our Constitutional Laws and what our government does in the war on terror. Who is to say the tools of the war on terror may not eventually be used on it's own people for political reasons.

      I thank the military for finally getting OBL, to give credit where credit is due.

    5. Mike, Wichita Falls says:

      I find myself feeling the same way about Osama Bin Laden that I do about Saddam Hussein. I don't rejoice in their deaths, but I do rejoice that they will not be able to kill and plan the deaths of any more people, either within their own countries or region or our country.

      If justice is defined broadly as the elimination of evil, then it was certainly done in both cases. If it's defined as conviction by your countrymen of crimes committed against them, then Saddam received more justice than Osama. Would Osama's capture, extradition, detention, trial, conviction and death been the ideal situation. Yes. Would it have ever happened in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan or Pakistan? I doubt it. What did happen is probably the best for which we could hope.

    6. Bobbie says:

      I don't get it? EVIL isn't forgiven! It is rid of! This man wasn't somebody with holes in his head as the president suggests! This phony impersonator of a man is EVIL!! It's appropriate to show the death of EVIL!!!! so those that follow will know their demise! Keep in mind, this face is just ONE!!

      Mr. President, what is gruesome are cries from people who know their fate and helpless to stop it. What is gruesome is seeing innocent lives fall to their deaths by the control of evil. What is gruesome is the freedom of man to choose evil to kill the lives of innocent others. The pictures of the death of one evil isn't graphic at all, no matter how many pieces it's in. You're reluctance to expose is respecting and sympathizing with the evil.

    7. Diane says:

      Well written, Ryan. I've had a lot of parents wondering what to say to their kids about his death, so I will definitely be passing this along. Thanks!

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