I went to sleep last night before I knew that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. I had gone to sleep before I realized that one man’s death was to cause such rejoicing. Instead I dreamed about whether there would ever be a world where international disputes would be settled by something other than killing – if there ever would be a day when people would finally resort to something other than bloodshed to solve our biggest problems. I swear that I dreamed about that.

Songs have led men into battle. My great great great grandfather, John Michael Doyle, was a drummer with the 51st Ohio Infantry in the Civil War, tapping out a cadence as men marched into battle. The first song I ever played on the piano was “The Marine’s Hymn.” Still, like so many in my generation, I gravitate toward songs of peace, songs of hope, songs of promise. I am reminded of an old hymn that we sometimes play:

Gonna lay down my sword and shield
Down by the riverside
Down by the riverside
Down by the riverside
Gonna lay down my sword and shield
Down by the riverside
Ain’t gonna study war no more.

refrain
I ain’t gonna study war no more,
I ain’t gonna study war no more,
Study war no more.
I ain’t gonna study war no more,
I ain’t gonna study war no more,
Study war no more.

Gonna stick my sword in the golden sand; (etc.)
refrain
Gonna put on my long white robe; (etc)
refrain
Gonna put on my starry crown;
refrain
Gonna put on my golden shoes;
refrain
Gonna talk with the Prince of Peace;
refrain
Gonna shake hands around the world;
refrain (traditional)

I am not so naïve as to think that we could exist without a military to defend us, laws to protect us, or the courage to put our own lives at risk to preserve the lives of others. But I am reminded of a verse out of Deuteronomy, one of the old books in the Old Testament of the Bible:

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:19 NIV 2011)

So as a writer and singer of songs, I have a choice. And I will choose life. I will sing it, and I will try to live it. I will rejoice in life and not celebrate death. I am glad that Osama Bin Laden will no longer plan the mass destruction of innocent people, but I will not rejoice in his death. I will simply say, “May he rest in peace, and may we all live in perfect peace — someday.” – Bob Tatum

Sound Traveler will be at the Brevard Art Museum in Eau Gallie this coming Friday evening. Come enjoy the art work and our music as well. This will be a return engagement for us, and we are pleased to be back.

To respond to this post, click on the title, scroll down and set me straight!

13 Comments to “SongTravelin’: 05.02.11 — Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead….”

  • I don’t care how you try to sugar coat it, he’s better off dead and we’re better off now that he’s dead. It would be great if we could all sit around our campfires and sing “Kum Ba Ya” but that’s not the real world. Pacifists like you let these people get started in the first place!

  • Bob,

    I have been sitting here watching the news, seeing crowds chanting “USA! USA!” as though this is all a football game or something.

    I don’t think that this kind of celebrating helps — in fact, I think it hurts. It gives terrorists more fuel for the fire — and it hurts us directly in making us believe that the world is a simple place — of us and them, and hurting “them” is good for “us.” I am also happy that Bin Laden will no longer hurt or kill innocent people, but celebrating his death seems pretty shallow.

    Most early Christians were totally pacifists. Later, Augustine came up with the “just war” theory. Some of those Christians then agreed to fight if the cause was just, but when their soldiers came home, they did not celebrate. They welcomed their soldiers back and helped them to repent of the killing that — while it was necessary — was still wrong even in the service of a “just” cause.

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian who was indeed a pacifist — and also participated in a plot to kill Hitler, because he could not allow this evil to continue without trying to change it. He was caught, imprisoned, and executed just before the Allies liberated that area.

    While I am not a Bible-thumper, several scriptures I just read seem appropriate:

    Prov 24.17, “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice”;

    Ezek 18.32, “I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord”;

    Ezek 33.11, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked.”

    We rejoice when evil acts end; we should not rejoice when anyone falls.

  • Thanks for such an insightful response, Mike. I so admire Bonhoeffer. There have been so few to have “walked the talk” as he did. Indeed Grace is free, but it isn’t cheap.

  • I agree with you Dad. Emily and I were hanging out making earrings when the news was released, and within ten minutes we saw so many Facebook updates saying things like “Sucks to suck Bin Laden. <3 America <3" and "Final score: Bin Laden 0, USA 1" making it very clear that at least my generation is celebrating this death. This morning I'm faced with videos people took last night of large groups of people chanting USA and celebrating… It makes me feel very odd. I watch videos of sporting events, or, like that one I'm sure I showed you, of people's reactions to big games or plays, but it's very strange to see the same sort of celebration in us as a country for killing a man… Granted, he was a confused man who had endangered many in his life, but that doesn't mean his death should be celebrated. It is unsettling to know that is how most everyone is reacting.

  • Keep the faith, girl. Nourish a tender heart.

  • I should have known I’d be in your camp. And Naomi… it’s not just your generation celebrating, by any means. And it’s not just you and Emily in your generation that feel the celebration is unsettling. I’ve seen some disturbing and plain ol’ inappropriate images, too.

    Here’s a post from my friend Kathy (my generation):
    “God Bless America. Celebrating the soldiers who sacrificed so much for our freedom. Thank you guys, especially to my nephew DJ. As for Bin Laden, well he’s gone, and I am fairly certain I will not meet him on the other side, as a christian it is hard to “celebrate the death of a man” as bad as he was, I am saddened that he never knew our Lord and will be separated from him forever. Hell gains another soul. Sad.”

    and here’s a post from my friend Jay (the next generation):
    “Yes, bin Laden is dead, but he was still a human being…
    As a humanitarian and Christian, I don’t believe murder is ever the right answer. However, as a human, a politically-interested citizen, and a patriotic American, I think he had it coming. There was no other way to combat Al Qaeda…”

    and here’s a post from my friend Maggie (the next generation), which kinds of puts a different spin on it, and I hope it makes you smile:
    “This weekend has been brought to you courtesy of Disney: You have your fairytale wedding, and the villian (sic) dies at the end.”

  • You see the title of this blog? Bob & I each thought of that this morning when the news came on. Bizarre, huh? It kind of goes along with my generally irrelevant sense of humor. My emotions were complex, to say the least, when I heard the news. Relief, because it signifies the closing of a chapter in history in a way. Apprehension, because I’m not sure about the cause-and-effect aspect of this event. But happiness and rejoicing, like our team had won a football game? No. It’s just not part of the equation for me. Celebrating death is not something I do. If someone wants to call me a hippie, go right ahead. And, Lawrence? People who are busy singing are generally too busy to cause trouble to anyone else. Sing on, everyone!

    Just one more thing…I was a little concerned about what I would hear at school today (I teach at a jr/sr high) about this situation, fearing that I might hear some of the kids bragging like we had won the Olympics or something. I am proud to say: not one word did I hear about it. We’re living our lives in peace. As we should be doing.

  • So glad you wrote this post. The “peace song” that comes most frequently to my mind while living in the Middle East is “Peace Is Flowing Like a River” .
    Peace is flowing like a river, Flowing out through you and me, Flowing out into the desert, Setting all the captives free.

    I totally agree with you all about being uncomfortable with the nationalistic celebration of a killing though we hope it will result in less evil in the long run.I was seeing video of people celebrating in front of the White House.I know we as Americans take this very personally.As I watched I was thinking how I’d feel if I was there. I think I’d be drawn to the area as Americans come together to acknowledge an event that is very important at least symbolically and which will be important historically, but I wouldn’t be celebrating a victory through a death. Maybe people are really celebrating their hope that things will be different now, though they need to acknowledge this comes after the death of many individuals.

    Mike, that is so interesting what you posted about Augustine era Christians returning from war in repentance not celebration. It feels wrong to so glorify our returning soldiers now as though everything they do in our name is good. It would feel more genuine to mourn with them the things we found necessary to do.

    My girls go to school with lots of Arabs and Muslims. I asked what was being said today about bin Laden’s death. They said in general the kids are glad he’s gone as he has been such an embarrassment to Muslims.

    Various tweets from an Arab News article:
    “The damage Bin Laden had caused Islam is beyond appalling and a collective shame.”

    Reacting to Bin Laden being buried at sea, Rami Salamé Tweeted: “BinLaden was buried at sea, just like Alfred Hitchcock, yet another famous movie-maker.” And then, “Bin Laden’s burial at sea is yet more proof that the USA doesn’t care for the environment!”

    Abdullah Mohiuddin had an interesting tweet: “Now that Bin Laden is dead, can I finally bring shampoo on a plane?”

  • As usual, you see things from inside Saudi Arabia and present a picture we just can’t see in The States. I love this statement of yours — “It would feel more genuine to mourn with them the things we found necessary to do.” I think that hits the nail on the head. There are a number of things in life that we find the necessity to do, but we don’t rejoice in some of them. For instance, I have sometimes had to allow students to reap the consequences of their behavior — they probably saw it as punishment. But no one rejoiced in that.

  • Just found this quote:

    “I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

  • KT, that is a fabulous quote — perfect actually. Thanks.

  • OK, it’s all done with. The US at last found Bin Laden. A chapter closed for those of us here in the US.

  • At long last, justice has recently been served. We’ll not forget our loved ones and individuals lost to the horrendous occasion of September eleventh. Perhaps even though Osama might be gone, the struggle versus terrorism persists. Let’s celebrate the occasion, but let’s by no means forget. God Bless us Every one

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