The Paw Print
About a year ago I wrote a column centered on the basic idea of John Donne’s “Meditation 17.”
In the meditation, Donne writes a rather poignant paragraph pondering the loss of human life and the correlation to the rest mankind: “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
This idea that mankind is linked because we are one human race presents many dichotomies in the current events of the world. Men and women die every day. People still find unfavorable biases for or against other groups of people – then use religion or government or similarly biased texts as evidence for their hate being justified.
Unquestionably, the world is a better place without Osama bin Laden. The man organized and led the world’s most recognizable and notorious terrorist organizations. To be rid of him, is to be rid of evil.
As news broke of the United States raid Sunday evening, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall tweeted his disgust of the celebration of the death of another person: “What kind of person celebrates death? It’s amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We’ve only heard one side…”
Paired with Donne’s thoughts on the death of men, Mendenhall’s tweet makes sense – to some extent. It’s loathsome to celebrate death. But, is it loathsome to celebrate the death of a terrorist who has killed thousands?
Donne’s meditation, when taken as a whole, clearly speaks of the deaths of good people, of hearing the church bells, of seeing the average, everyday person in death. In the same respect, the death of a man as detestable as bin Laden marks the end of life that has drastically affected the lives of every living person.
When thousands of people gathered in front of the White House, in Times Square, at Ground Zero, at various bars and state capitals, there was celebration. The celebration, much to Mendenhall’s disliking, came from an emotionally charged national pride. An event as tragic as the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center has been matched only by the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The death of bin Laden vindicated the deaths and injuries to those people whose lives were taken and affected by the events of 9/11.
The quandary of both Donne and Mendenhall on life and death can be attributed to the death of bin Laden, but with tongue-in-cheek. Donne, if present today, would most certainly agree the death of bin Laden is great for the world – a great evil has been stricken from this land. He may not celebrate, but surely emotions would arise within in him.
Mendenhall’s comments, however, are misplaced and in bad taste. His argument against the celebration of death should have ended with just that. His latter statement, “It’s amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We’ve only heard one side,” is completely wrong and poorly chosen.
The world has heard bin Laden speak through action, through video, and through text. His “side” is clear and passionate.
Mendenhall’s irresponsible, ignorant comments should have stayed in his head. The passions brought about by bin Laden’s death are appropriate and justified. Bin Laden’s death diminishes man, like Donne might argue, only because he was a part of mankind, but his death is far more celebratory and certainly justifiable for the betterment of all mankind.