Monday, May 2, 2011


I rarely comment on what is happening in the world news but I just heard the news that Osama Bin Laden is dead. I was somewhat taken aback by the rejoicing that people were doing over the fact that he had been killed. It kind of stung me actually. As humans, have we become so desensitized that we are happy, even ecstatic when someone is killed?

Several years ago, I read a book by Donald Miller and in it he talk about the value that we place on people by using the illustration of a lifeboat. I am going to put it in my own words with this scenario... You, as well as nine other people are on a large boat that is sinking. It is discovered that there are not enough spaces in the lifeboat for everyone to be able to be saved. Somehow in this surreal scenario, you have been given the final say in who makes it on to the lifeboat and who doesn't. There is space for six people. Among the passengers are a pregnant woman, and elderly gentleman, Wayne Gretzky, a child, The Pope, Osama Bin Laden, a quadriplegic man, a serial rapist, Bono, and of course yourself. You don't have a long time to decide who gets saved. What do you do? Do only good people deserve to be saved? Does noted fame or talent make someone more worthy? What about age? Does someone at a young age deserve life more than someone who has reached a ripe old age? Do only people who contribute to society garner the nod of life? Do terrorists and rapists deserve to be saved? What about you? What value does your life have? Are you for sure on the boat without a question? What makes your life more valuable than any other? Would you give up your place on the boat for someone else? Do any of these people not deserve a second chance at life? To be better? To change? Where does a person's value lie? At what point are people a right off? When is there a point of no return for someone? Is it when they are terrorists? How about if they just reach a certain age? What if they are severely disabled? What if they are unborn?

This illustration, to me, is something that we all need to wrestle with. So often, we don't even realize how we look at others or ourselves. We place value on people by some sort of ranking system. Evil people should definitely be lower on the list than those that contribute and make the world better. Right? These people even deserve death? And we do a jig when we hear that they have gotten what they deserve? At what point have we decided that we are at the top, that somehow because we have made different choices or were raised in a different culture or religion that we have more value? Honestly now, when was the last time you slandered someone with your words? What about lying? What about gossip? What about intentionally pushing some one's buttons to hurt them? What about feeling jealous or envious? What about blowing a gasket at your spouse or your kid or your boss or someone in traffic?

The world does not change when what we call "bad" people are killed. The world changes when we can look at ourselves honestly and say that we are "bad" as well. At that point we realize we need grace; a second chance. It's when we realize that every person has immeasurable value and that we could give up our own lives, through dying and living, for the world to be better that something truly amazing can happen.


  1. Lots of unanswered questions...and things to think about - what are we teaching our children?

  2. Thanks Lisa, I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who was shocked about the abundance of positive remarks made after Osama's death.
    Here's a link for some more conversation on the topic...