Real News

Published: May 2, 2011

By Jim Lichtman
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Lately, the words Breaking News have come to represent the latest announcement by Donald Trump or stories about Charlie Sheen or Lindsay Lohan.

Last night, shortly before 8:00 pm (pst), network silliness morphed into dramatic sobriety that demonstrated one of the primary purposes of journalism: to provide citizens with important, accurate and trustworthy information.

CNNABCNBC, and FOX news organizations all reported that the man responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001, Osama bin Laden, had been killed in a fire-fight in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Spiritual and psychological leader of al Qaeda – the preeminent terrorist group in the world – the death of bin Laden signals the end of a man who stood as the figurehead of so much enmity toward the West and much of the world.

While I believe that his death represents a level of victory, even closure for thousands of families who lost loved ones on 9/11, I don’t necessarily subscribe to the level of celebration that was evidenced in multiple locations last night.

“His demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity,” President Obama said in a speech announcing bin Laden’s death. “Justice has been done.”

While I can relate to a level of relief and joy, true human dignity embraces a level of tolerance that should not be ignored.

Post 9/11, we came together in grief. We united in our resolve to bring about justice. Perhaps more difficult now, is to come together and resolve to bring about greater unity of respect for those who may be different from ourselves.

Intolerance – political, cultural and religious – is the greatest issue facing us today. Intolerance excludes us from the world. It takes us away from our connection to humanity and leads us down a path to fear, hate and conflict.

Tolerance opens our hearts and minds to others. Acceptance leads us to greater understanding and peace.

“Tolerance,” President John Kennedy once said, “implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.”

While we can observe the death of an individual responsible for a great deal of needless human suffering, all of us can use this moment to work to strengthen our faith and hope for a better, more tolerant world. We can strive to improve the lives of others through respect and understanding and in the process become better ourselves.

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