It’s only been a few days since Osama Bin Laden was killed, and I can’t even count the number of news articles, opinion pieces, interviews, historical retrospectives, biographies, rants, and random comments I’ve read.
Most intriguing to me is the question of whether or not we should be celebrating someone’s death. I’ve read a couple of interesting postings specifically on this subject, but it brings up some larger questions about humanity.
I’ve always considered the human race to be one big organism. Each individual person is like a cell in the human body, with their own specific job in life. But the overall total is what makes up the “body” of humanity. Some people do the majority of our thinking, some people do the majority of “manual labor”. Some people make it their life’s work to heal others, some provide food, and – just like the cells in our body – some handle the unpleasant tasks like hygiene and waste disposal.
And some people are like cancer. They grow up with the specific intent of killing others.
Some of these cancers are so insidious that they actually threaten the existence of all of humanity.
Our cells do fight back when threatened, and if they can’t handle the attack on their own, the heroes of our our body – the white blood cells, for example – come to the rescue. But sometimes, even more drastic measures are required.
If a patient has to undergo surgery to remove a cancerous tumor, the surgeon needs to cut out a little more around the tumor – removing some healthy cells in the process. Consider that to be the equivalent to “collateral damage” in war (see my previous posting, Wrestling the Anaconda, for a humorous view of the “margins” that a surgeon needs to remove from around dead tissue during surgery ...)
Ok, it’s not a perfect analogy, but you get the idea.
The removal of Osama Bin Laden from the human collection was an extremely precise, laser accurate surgery – with very little collateral damage. But 1) we left a lot of dead on the road to get to him and 2) he managed to infect others with his particular cancer, and we don’t yet know how dangerous these others are. Their cause might die out on its own, but if they rise up and threaten the existence of humanity, the “cure” will probably not be very pleasant.
I am against violence and I am anti-war, but I do recognize the unfortunate necessity in certain circumstances. I am horrified by murder, but I recognize that we – as a society – must occasionally kill those who are murderers. As Mr. Spock wisely said in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”
In this case, I must admit I am elated that Osama Bin Laden is dead. Not because I’m an American, but because I’m a human being– I’d certainly feel the same way about the people who released the Sarin Gas in the Tokyo Subway. Humanity has many obstacles to overcome. We need to find a way to live in peace. We need to control our population. We need to balance our economy with our consumption so we don’t deplete the Earth’s resources. We have to care for the environment. And along the way, we need to deal with these cancers that occasionally infect us.