Evil, Violence and Osama bin Laden

First off, thanks for all of the comments to yesterday’s posts. I got my quote corrected, got some different perspectives, found out I wasn’t clear on some things and most importantly it got me thinking.

I actually had to do a Google search to understand why people were celebrating Osama bin Laden’s death. That just goes to show how “out of touch” I can be about things. Here’s an excerpt from the first article I opened:

No, the war against terrorism is not over. It may never be in our lifetimes. But as President Obama confirmed late Sunday evening, one of the most evil men to ever breathe is dead. And because of that, peace-loving men and women can celebrate.

Man… That’s a strong way to feel about Osama bin Laden and… it actually never dawned on me to view him that way. I can TOTALLY understand why a number of Americans would see him that way and it makes celebrating in the streets abundantly clear (plus a bunch of people in the street attracts… more people in the street).

Evil?

You know what… I don’t think I’ve ever looked at the dictionary definition of evil (I look up words all the time):

a : morally reprehensible : sinful, wicked <an evil impulse>
b : arising from actual or imputed bad character or conduct <a person of evil reputation

Wow… I guess he was evil (according to dictionary definition), but… words like evil and hate are words I’ve practically eliminated from my personal vocabulary. That’s not something that just happened over night. My mind INSTANTLY flashes back to one or many conversations I had with with my father.

I HATE YOU!

I remember “hating” everything when I was little. My mom when things didn’t go my way. School for sucking. My brother for… being my brother. šŸ˜‰ My dad (seen on video here as miltownpops) wasn’t able to provide me with a whole lot materially or financially growing up, but one thing he gave me which in my mind is greater than money or things was love and the elimination of hate.

I can’t remember if it happened more than once, but I can vividly recall saying I hated someone in front of him one day and he told me “Hey! Hate is a powerful word. You shouldn’t ever hate anyone. You can dislike them, but you shouldn’t ever hate.” That stuck with me. This came from the same man I’ve seen SNAP about White people and “The Man.” lol I’m sure that planted the seeds that led me to being…

Too Daoist To See Evil

I think I was introduced to Daoism when I was 14 (I’m 31 now). And I wasn’t introduced to it directly. Someone gave my brother a copy of the Daodejing and I kind of “stole” it from him. I took that book with me EVERYWHERE and studied long and hard to uncover the hidden gems of wisdom. Here’s chapter 2 from the translation I had 17 years ago (by Stephen Mitchell) I have a ton translations now:

When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad [or evil].

Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.

Therefore the Master
acts without doing anything
and teaches without saying anything.
Things arise and she lets them come;
things disappear and she lets them go.
She has but doesn’t possess,
acts but doesn’t expect.
When her work is done, she forgets it.
That is why it lasts forever.

Without getting too deep into the whole chapter, one thing I took from it growing up was that bad/evil, like beauty, was in the eye of the beholder. So, relating that to the whole Osama thing, I understand that Osama was evil in the minds of a lot of Americans. BUT I also understand that to Osama bin Laden and his followers America/the American government is/was evil. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Well… the answer to that question is way beyond my pay grade although I will say that what Osama bin Laden did was wrong and much of our response to the attacks was wrong.

I don’t think killing Osama or terrorists was/is wrong. That could be viewed as pulling weeds from your garden of peace. šŸ™‚ That said…

Violence+Violence=More Violence

See… Words are a tricky thing which is why I’m constantly hitting a dictionary. There are 4 definitions of violence and 4 definitions of violent. Let me explain how I am and am not using the word.

Violence:
a : exertion of physical force so as to injure or abuse (as in warfare effecting illegal entry into a house)
b : an instance of violent treatment or procedure

Violent:
marked by extreme force or sudden intense activity
emotionally agitated to the point of loss of self-control

The “violence” I’m talking about is an extreme emotional overreaction to a situation, plus a dash of revenge.

So if, to grab an example from the comments yesterday, an “old lady who was accosted and raped and she decides to defend herself. And if by chance the perpetrator dies […]” I don’t think any violence happened (not the violence I’m talking about).

Or if I was out with my girlfriend and 3 thugs attacked us and I felt it was necessary to kill two of the thugs to successfully detain the 3rd… Maybe it was violent, maybe it wasn’t. Did I kill them because I thought it would be awesome and was pissed that they attacked me? Violence. Did I kill them because there were three of them and what I did seemed like the best course of action for me at the time to keep myself and my girlfriend safe? Not violence.

Sometimes calculated excessive force isn’t violence (the violence I’m talking about). As violent as the operation that took out Osama seemed, if it was truly a major step towards the elimination of worldwide terrorism and the propagation of worldwide peace. Not violence. I just don’t see it like that (but I understand that a lot of people do).

So basically if two people, families, countries (or planets) play ping-pong with the ball of violence, things escalate to the point of almost total destruction of one player.

Who are the players in our current “games” of violence-pong? Corporations (money), governments (power), and people (culture/resources).

Osama bin Laden

What Osama bin Laden help organize was wrong, extremely wrong, heck I’ll even say it was evil. But I won’t say he was evil. Americans need to wake up to the fact that we suck. America is AWESOME and it sucks. Americans overly focus on the awesome and minimize the seriousness of the suck.

All I know is that we’re wasteful, we’re violent and we’re all up in other people’s (country’s) shit because of how wasteful and violent we are. You know all of those alien movies where some alien race uses up all of the resources of their planet and comes to our planet to enslave/destroy us with their advanced technology? The US is that alien race. You know how some “hero” pops up and figures out a way to destroy the alien race that’s attacking our homes, families and cities? BOOM! Osama bin Laden. If the movie was “Independence Day” and the earth was the middle east, Osama bin Laden would have been Will Smith. (I bet there isn’t one other blog on the PANET that made that comparison.) Maybe I should have used that Avatar movie with all the blue people…

OK, I don’t want to offend anyone too much, but wouldn’t it be nice if the alien race came to us with their advanced technology, helped us implement it in our lives in exchange for some of our resources in an ultra diplomatic fashion? It’d probably make for a really crap movie to watch, but it’d be way nicer for the people in the movie.

I understand that not all things can be handled in a diplomatic, hippy-dippy fashion, but I can’t feel good about the things the US does because I don’t believe they’re to lift up the people of the whole planet. If it’s about helping people there are MILLIONS… BILLIONS of people the US could help by helping them build infrastructure, etc. Instead we’re that alien race all up in other people’s shit to ensure our people (rich and poor) can keep being wasteful at the levels they’ve grown accustomed to. All that does is create a breeding ground for the next Osama.

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9 Responses to Evil, Violence and Osama bin Laden

  1. sandra says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I was raised up by my grandma not to talk about politics and religion. Two Hot subjects. Funny the world “seemed” peaceful then. I remember when I worked in the South and one of my sups lived in an area where blacks could not. Outside of the office she didn’t speak. But at work, she was civil and I guess we worked well together because we did not discuss race, religion or politics. Digressing. But it was difficult for me to share my feelings without feeling anger yesterday, because I see the violence on all sides like you’re saying. And you’re right it’s easier to judge another then to take a hard look at oneself . This reminds me of something Benjamin Franklin use to do. He kept a diary of values and each night he asked himself which ones he needs to work on. None of us are as pure as snow. Because we live in such a violent consciousness universe we have these seeds in us that breed hatred. Of course we want to go into denial about these things. It’s painful. We look for doing “gratitude journals” which is more sanitized verbiage for what Old Ben use to do.
    Don’t want to go from Bin Laden to Ben…
    But thanks for the provocative discussion. Last night there was a public tv show on showing children in Madrasas being trained to shoot at such a young age, thinking they have to prepare for the Enemy(U.S.)
    And then I see children in African countries who think their enemy is within and pillage their own people and neighborhoods.
    Yes we all live in a universe of hate and violence and I’m waiting for the aliens.. ..

  2. Magdalicious says:

    I can sum up my reply to you Casey, in one word. Agree. šŸ˜€

  3. Penney Morse says:

    I would argue that a case can be made that Dick Cheney is evil personified the same way a case can be made that Osama is evil personified. You are so right that it is all about perspective…..or as Grandma would say, it all depends on whose ox get gored.

  4. Brian says:

    It’s a complicated subject, here’s my take on it.

    There are people here in the US who completely oppose our foreign occupation of countries, who know all about the hypocrisy of pretending to uphold ideals of freedom/liberty all while funding various dictators. It would be ridiculous to think that these people are somehow represented by the actions of our military being told what to do by various government administrations. But in the mind of terrorists, there is no such distinction to being made. I believe this to be the case because in their mind the 9-11 attacks(murder of innocents)was the appropriate response. Instead of opening a dialogue as their means of trade, they chose force.

    Radical terrorist cells in the middle east do their best to oppress their own people too, they want to radicalize people into actions of violence, they -thrive- in a culture of violence. Violence, and terror is their raison d’etre and we’d be fooling ourselves if we thought they just want “peace” and that any diplomatic relations would be possible with such irrational brutes. To these radicalized groups we are seen as the infidel, whom they have a god-given responsibility to murder. Aside from this, in their ideal culture homosexuals can be stoned to death. If you unconvert from their religion you are murdered. Recently a pastor burned a Quaran because he determined that it was a book that inspired violence. The response? Radical muslims stormed a village and killed people, PROVING the guy’s point. Now I don’t agree with the actions of the pastor, but why is no one focusing on the -real- evil, which was the actions carried out by the radicalized muslims? We’re in a day and age where the lines between political correctness, and sanctioning evil, are becoming more and more blurred.

    This isn’t a hate-train on the muslim people though. I have absolutely nothing against anyone who does not advocate violence. I don’t think of people in terms of groups, but rather as individuals. I, unlike terrorists, make the distinction between innocent civilians and perpetrators of violence.

    We have a government that has been out of control for far too long, we have to wake people up to the fact that the actions by our government is doing nothing except fertilize the breeding grounds for terrorists. Perhaps it’s intentional though, create the “big bad” to focus people’s attentions on so they don’t notice all the strings being pulled. Thing that kills me the most though, is how unnecessary it all is :/.

  5. Faust says:

    I’ll come out and say it:

    I for one, am glad that motherf*cker is dead.

    And do you know who else agrees with me? The Dali Lama. That’s right the living embodiment of the Bodhisattva. So I guess I am in good company.

    That being said, I don’t think all people are rejoicing that he is dead. I think they are rejoicing it’s over. It brings closure to the lives he touched. One man can bring so much strife. And here’s the kicker. He’s just a spoiled rich kid. It could be argued the actions of the terrorists are heroic, sacrificing their own life for a purpose, but this guy, he just sat there. Smart, yes. Heroic? No.

    Care to compare and contrast the “Death to America” parades they have in Iran to the outbreak of celebration at Ground Zero? In America no one was chanting “death to…” anybody. It was a celebration of life, that this city can finally move on from.

    And as for wars. They are just a condition of humanity. Like death. They brought all of us closer together and gave us language. Funny, how we don’t look at it like that. No people want a foreign occupation, but from it comes great food, and shared culture. And in the end, I think little things like the Alphabet, language, and knowledge were worth it. But hey, that’s just me. But you know else agrees with me, that the wars in the Middle East are worth it? That’s right, His Holiness The Dali Lama.

    P.S.-Loving the blog. I may not comment so often but I am reading it for sure.

    • miltownkid says:

      His Holiness: “Forgiveness doesn’t mean forget what happened. ā€¦ If something is serious and it is necessary to take counter-measures, you have to take counter-measures.”

      His miltownkidness: “As violent as the operation that took out Osama seemed, if it was truly a major step towards the elimination of worldwide terrorism and the propagation of worldwide peace. Not violence.” šŸ˜‰

      I don’t think he exactly came out and said “I for one, am glad that motherf*cker is dead.” lol

      And I’m totally agree with you about wars, language and such. It’s all a part of humanity’s evolution towards a higher consciousness. I mean, we couldn’t exactly go from dragging women by the hair to enlightened beings that levitate.

  6. sandra says:

    Funny you should write this. I was just reading one of my favorite bloggers who has won blogger awards in the Buddhist community. And this is what he had to say:
    http://thebuddhistblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/death-of-osama-bin-laden-and-middle.html

  7. Eklctc says:

    Thanks for the blog. You have already read my thoughts about the whole mess of things and, though you didn’t hit on my points directly in this point, I think we see much of the same things.

    I will once again state that the U.S. needs to learn to pay more attention to its own people and the issues within its society and stop trying to force or coerce other countries to adopt its system. As stated in my blog on the topic, there are plenty of entities that do not like the way the U.S. government runs things in North America but you don’t see them coming over here waging war in an attempt to overthrow what they believe needs to be fixed in this society.

    U.S. has been digging this hole for decades and, now, opposing people are coming up with the resources and the manpower (citizens and non-citizens) to actually physically make the opposition known.

    Additionally, as I also stated previously, it’s funny how people can take such a strong stance against a man who orchestrated mass murders on our soil yet they do not partake in just as strong of a stance against those countrymen and religious affiliates who performed the same deeds and built this Nation on what these people now claim to view as ‘evil’.

    Faust stated some people were rejoicing because Osama is dead and others were rejoicing that it is over. WHAT is over exactly? From my viewpoint, the U.S. has just added more fuel to the existing fire; it has created more reason to be hated and invaded; more reason for citizens to ridicule them for their lack of attention to their own.

    Soapbox off…:)

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