Learning Anytime, Anywhere

Almost a half century ago, John W. Gardner, President Lyndon Johnson’s Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (the precursor to the now separate Departments of Education and Health and Human Services) said, More

Our Economic Fantasies

The seemingly endless debates about budgets, deficits, and debts could easily create the impression that, if only the politicians could get their act together and agree, we could somehow get out of this mess. More

Killing Osama Bin Laden’s Legacy

A friend of mine was driving with his 9-year old daughter, listening to the news about Osama bin Laden’s death on the radio, when this exceptionally precocious girl said: “What a tragedy that we had to kill someone to fix a problem.” Out of the mouths of babes.

Much has been written about the death of bin Laden and what it means for al Qaeda, about the possibility of retaliation and the sense of closure for the families of those who died on 9/11/2001, and about how the U.S. action was justified and justice was served. But having learned about bin Laden’s death on the 60th anniversary of the day that we learned that Adolf Hitler was dead, it’s worthwhile to take a moment to think about some broader issues, as well.

Like Hitler before him, bin Laden promoted superiority (the superiority of his religion, his ethnicity, and his viewpoint) when, in fact, all he really demonstrated was hatred and bigotry. Bin Laden personified death and destruction, and in a way that wise 9-year old girl was right. It is a tragedy that we had to resort to bin Laden’s tactics to rid the world of his evil presence. But, there is something else that we can do about his ideas. We can reject them, more forcefully and more publicly than ever before.

Civility, respect, and tolerance were bin Laden’s real enemies, not the U.S. or the Western World. Knowledge and freedom for all, men and women alike, were bin Laden’s greatest fears. Dividing and labeling people were his tactics. Ignorance was his kingdom.

What kind of world would bin Laden hate the most? Not just a modern world, but also a world in which his ideas, his values, his beliefs, and his tactics are rejected. A world that lives in peace, harmony, and tolerance. A world in which we put aside our labels and our prejudices, and we respect the views of others, even if we do not always agree with them.

You and I can reject all that bin Laden was and represented. You and I can be all that bin Laden was not. You and I can be friends and colleagues. You and I can be compassionate and caring. You and I can be Devout Citizens of the World.