Americans seemed surprised with themselves for having mixed feelings over the death of Osama bin Laden. I think it's more the manner of how he was killed than the fact that he was. Even the President seemed uneasy for having ordered then witnessed a very messy execution. Well, folks, welcome to war. It's a scenario our soldiers witness on a daily basis in combat. It's not pretty, is it!
I got to thinking about the term, 'he's the personification of evil'. That interests me. First, what is evil? I think it's a state, not a trait nor an emotion. When it consumes all that is human in a being than it's personified and the person ceases to be human even while retaining human form. The exclusion of humanity forfeits all the rights that come with being one. That includes the niceties of laws and trials and humane extraction of information and painless executions.
There are many such monsters among us. There always have been. Hitler. Any number of middle eastern rulers scrambling for their existence. Any number of Sub-Saharan African rulers. Kim il Jong. Enough others to make my blood run cold. They exist because they surround themselves with others who have succumbed to evil. They survive because the good and decent people of the world fear them. We do not know how to deal with those who have lost all sense of decency and compassion and ignore the differences between right and wrong. They are above the law because no law applies to them. They are no longer human.
When I agonize over my feelings about the death penalty, I think of these things. It isn't easy to willingly kill another human being. It goes against the grain of who we are. And that is just the point. We are human beings with feelings and fears and misgivings and hope and happiness and joy and laughter.
The personification of evil exploits this. Evil has offended our sensibilities, not the other way around.
We should not agonize over destroying evil. It does no good to try and equate it to our way of thinking because they are not one and the same.
In looking at history you see it's unlikely we will ever be free from evil. In Osama bin Laden's case, however, at least one monster has met with a stake through his heart. There is no need to grieve. There is no need to apologize for having mixed feelings; it's those feelings that differentiate us from him.