The Prophetic Voice
Written for my Prophets class.
Last night a whole nation celebrated the death of a single man, Osama bin Laden. The people of the world seem to have mixed feelings about this man’s death, but the masses seem most concerned with the feelings of joy and relief. The prophetic voice would speak out against these celebrators, condemning their joy and emphasizing the need to instead celebrate the value of life.
Between the times of the news outbreak on Sunday, May 1, and May 2 at 1pm, CNN.com alone had 88 million global page views and 13.8 million global video starts (CNN.com). Even Facebook and Twitter have become outlets of joy concerning bin Laden’s death. CNN.com says,
“There have been 9 posts on the death of bin Laden which have generated over 52,000 likes and comments. The top post was: Breaking News: Osama bin Laden is dead, CNN John King’s reported Sunday night, citing sources, and it had over 10,000 interactions, the highest level ever recorded. This is already 35% higher than the number of interactions surrounding the Japan quake and tsunami that was tracked for 6 days.”
The voice of the prophets would be well used in the face of the celebrations over this man’s death. In today’s world, sign acts would probably be less than useful as people have all varieties of “acceptable” behavior and most things, such as taking a wife of whoredom as Hosea did, are tolerated without second thought. Still, the prophets would probably have something to say about all of this. The prophetic voice would instead come in the form of poetry and song, speeches and dramatic interpretations.
The prophetic voice would criticize the amount of joy conceived by the death of Osama bin Laden. The world would be reminded that every life is valuable and that as the creator, God is the only one that has the right to take the life of another. The author of the Gospel ofMatthew says, “Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are with him in the way; lest perhaps the prosecutor deliver you to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer, and you be cast into prison.” The world should be less hasty to rejoice over the death of one man, for the Lord may choose to judge them murderers of the heart for it.
Brueggemann says, “the notion of human justice and compassion is rarely a foremost factor in ordering a community” (22). The world may view Osama bin Laden’s death as a kind of justice, but what about the second portion of that? Is it compassionate to celebrate this man’s death? No, the compassionate thing to do would be to treat this as an act of war, something that may have been necessary, but ultimately, a somber act, not something worthy of celebration.
The prophetic voice would be used here to energize and encourage people to think about the life of other individuals, even one’s enemies, as something worthy of protecting. Let the world instead rejoice over acts of peace and events on the global stage that bring peoples together, not events that will lead to further violence. The prophetic voice would charge people to care for each other, the sick, the needy, even one’s enemies; because life is a beautiful and none should be lost without great sorrow.
Osama bin Laden’s death may have been a military victory on the part of the United State, but the loss of his life is not something to be celebrated. The prophets of old would criticize the people of the world for rejoicing over such an event and encourage them to instead take actions that draw people closer together.