Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Humanity of Osama bin Laden

Since April, my seniors have been “mailing it in.” Senioritis has run rampant and they are not apologizing for it. Despite the articles they are not reading, I have noticed they are completely engaged with one of two things: sports and this past week, the death of Osama bin Laden. 

 The World Series Champion San Francisco Giants who have continued to occupy our hearts and imagination received little if any airtime air time when compared to details of the compound in Abbottabad and the plight of the Navy SEALS in pursuit of “Geronimo.” 

 Although I don’t appreciate the fact that some students haven’t opened a book in weeks, I must admit, I understand their intrigue. The technology used by the CIA, the plot, the leads, the intense firefight--Senioritis be gone! In the spirit of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” I picked up both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal with the hope I would uncover something that I could integrate into the curriculum. As I devoured one piece after another, I thought to myself “what do I know about bin Laden?” I suppose if pressed, I could have told you the Muslim leader of Al Quaida was born in Saudi Arabia, his father was extremely wealthy, both father and son had several wives. 

I read Born Into Privilege, Bin Laden Became the Face Global Terror, as though I were trying to put pieces together—to make sense of a man who was wanted “Dead or Alive for $25 million (in 2006)” His father was never part of his life, his parents divorced when he was two, he attended the most prestigious private schools, he renounced a great percentage of his inheritance…. And then I read the teenage bin Laden was tall, almost gangly, and was often picked as a forward on his school soccer team for his superior ability to head the ball in. I stopped. This line glared at me. 

Bin Laden was an athlete. Certainly, he wasn’t the first evil villain to be a renowned sportsman. Fidel Castro was a pitcher scouted for U.S. baseball teams. Yet, to realize this man was someone talented in something so familiar to me, something that I see unites young people, which I can relate to made him--if just for that moment--very human. And that was uncomfortable. 

In the poem “To Create An Enemy” Sam Keen writes Obscure the individuality of each face. Erase all hints of the myriad loves, hopes and fears that play through the kaleidoscope of every finite heart.” With bin Laden, this was incredibly easy to do. To me, his culture and faith were totally other, his appearance and his ideas are so foreign, too extreme. It’s easy to think of a man like bin Laden as anything but a human being with the capacity for evil we all possess. To erase his hopes and dreams in light of the terror his choices invoked is simple. And yet, I know that is what a Christian must never do—forget, forsake or deny the humanity of each and every person. 

No comments:

Post a Comment