Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Mon, Sep 11 2006

Five years later, it's only five years later

ABC News' Gretchen Peters talks about us not knowing much more about Osama bin Laden now than we did five years ago. But there are some things that are obvious. He is older now. The few photos I've seen of him show lines of aging in his face. The stress of being a hunted man has to have taken its toll. Time never seems to be kind to extremists that way. The man is portrayed in the Western media as everything from an Islamic student gone insane to a cold, calculating mobster with more money than brains. That has to be a real fall for a man who once thought he was on the way to something more refined and admirable. The truth is that he's made it almost impossible for Westerners to identify with his brand of thinking, even though I'm rather sure what he'd hoped for was more converts to Islam. Even the Islamic people who have come to the United States denounce his mindset and are disgusted with the way his actions have caused prejudice against them in a country where we usually encourage people to follow their religion freely. Islamic people who came to the U.S. and just want to earn an honest living, raise their children in good schools and live in safe neighborhoods are probably more angry at Osama bin Laden than those of us who grew up here and have enjoyed our freedoms all our lives. I suppose that's the saddest thing of all for Osama bin Laden. The very people he once might have influenced to a greater good have found that they don't need him for that. The truly great contributions that are made to the world come slowly in everyday individual choices and are not driven by some sudden terror like that of a September day five years ago.

If Osama bin Laden had held onto his young ideals for just a bit longer he might have been able to mature into a great leader. But his peak of insight seems to have passed with no positive mark on the world. Where are the universities and hospitals he might have erected with his wealth? Where are the young scientists he might have inspired to find a cure for diseases? Where are his great architectural students and the builders he could have mentored? Where are the leaders he might have sparked to bring spiritual wealth that would make the world a better place?

Instead, Osama bin Laden has become, to us Westerners, a disgruntled, middle-aged man who carries around a rifle and is hiding from virtually every law enforcement agency on the planet. He spends his hours with a few cronies and uses other young men's religious fervor to encourage them to go out to commit suicide (and to kill other people at the same time). And it's all for some cause that most of us here still don't even understand and probably never will, now that we've been exposed to his version of how to persuade people.

It's five years after September 11, 2001. Sadly, the things that most need to change haven't changed very much at all. But I have hope. There's a lot of violent talk in the Old Testament of the Bible that would be frightening to anyone who stopped there and did not also read the New Testament and find that Christ came to help people understand the true power of God in love and in caring for one another. Maybe the servants of Allah will take that same higher path. Otherwise, as someone very wise once noted, an eye for an eye makes the whole world go blind.

posted at: 07:39 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

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