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On October 20, Muammar Gaddafi, the ruler of Libya for the past 42 years, was assassinated. Libya, as well as many other nations, are celebrating his death. Citizens feel an unfamiliar sense of peace now that Gaddafi assuredly won’t be returning to power.
A somewhat similar feeling was felt in the United States and other countries last May, when terrorist Osama Bin Laden was assassinated in Pakistan. Facebook statuses and Twitter updates everywhere were filled with expressions of joy that Osama had been found, and killed.
When I first heard the news about bin Laden last May, I remember feeling that the United States had finally been avenged. I rejoiced that the man was dead and that he had finally paid for the atrocities he’s responsible for organizing. As I scrolled down my Facebook page, it was clear that everyone felt the same way, and I became even more excited about bin Laden’s death.
But my reaction and that of the general public brought to light the need for a change in thought. As a Christian Scientist, I began to feel unsettled rejoicing over any man’s death, no matter how evil he may have seemed to be. As I delved deeper into what Christian Science truly teaches, I found answers that were straightforward and unalterable, and I no longer felt the desire to celebrate.
Christian Science presents God as wholly good, as All-in-all. And because God creates man in his image and likeness, according to Genesis I, the possibility of God creating an evil man is completely impossible. Mary Baker Eddy writes on page 71 of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “Evil has no reality. It is neither person, place, nor thing, but is simply a belief, an illusion of material sense.” This truth alone establishes the fact that any individual, no matter how much evil they have seemingly inflicted on the world, could possibly be wicked.
So what can be celebrated in these kinds of situations? Surely the fact that Gaddafi is no longer a threat to the freedom of Libyans is a good thing. A testimony that a professor of mine gave last year helped me identify what is right and worthy of celebration. She remarked that to express joy over the death of tyranny, not the death of a man, is legitimate and right. This helped a great deal. Gaddafi as a spiritual idea of God, can never be anything other than the child of God, but the destruction of the evil that he unfortunately accepted for himself is most definitely worthy of celebration.
Gaddafi may have a long way to go until he sees how incapable of evil he is because of his identity as God’s own son. However, this truth remains intact despite the attempt of material sense to present an alternate view. The Libyans have a right to celebrate their freedom and the death of cruelty and oppression. Recognizing, however, what they are celebrating was never a part of Gaddafi, is the purest way to obey the commandment “love thy neighbor as thyself.”
The responsibility of every honest Christian Scientist is to strive to see the perfect man. Accepting the suggestion that a man could be a terrorist or an agent of mortal mind, is suggesting that God is not omnipotent and that sin has power. Mrs. Eddy writes that “We must learn that evil is the awful deception and unreality of existence.” We can start learning this by viewing our fellow man through the lens of God, the lens that sees no evil and knows only good.