An Open Letter to Mr. Osama bin Laden

By : Dr. Bruce C. Swaffield

I hope this letter finds its way to you and that you will grant me the opportunity to speak to you, openly and honestly. I am a professor at a small college in the United States; I am married; I have two children; and I believe in God with all of my heart.
I confess that I do not know much about you, other than what everyone in the United States is saying right now. I know you have a great deal of money. I know you live in Afghanistan, and I know you are rarely seen in public. I have seen your picture in almost every newspaper I read and on all of the television stations. You do not look like an evil man. In fact, you look like many of the people in my country.
For the past few days, I have heard your voice on television. Although I cannot understand what you are saying, you sound calm, quiet and sincere. You appear to be thinking carefully about each word you say. Your sentences are measured and slow, like a man who is patient and understanding. Over and over, the media has reported your comments about the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. You claim you had nothing to do with these incidents and that you could not be involved.
I want to believe you.
For the sake of the thousands of people who were killed on September 11, as well as the tens of thousands who grieve and mourn for them, I want to believe you. I want to believe that you would not kill innocent people just to hurt our country\'s economy or government. I want to believe that no one would be so cruel and inhumane to slaughter people who, much like me, didn\'t even know much about you. I want to believe that your God would not tell you to perform such acts. I want to believe that you and I are not so very different in our emotions and feelings. I want to believe that you and I are alike in wanting to make the world a better place in which to live. I want to believe that we serve the same God.
I do believe, and I know, that God the Father is watching all of us, that He personally feels the pain and suffering of the past week. I believe that He will bring justice to those who committed these crimes. I know, too, that the United States will not tolerate terrorism in any form and that we will not give up our civil liberties. We will, if necessary, fight for them. As an American and a human being, I am personally committed to freedom for people everywhere no matter what their beliefs, religion, color or culture.
Mr. bin Laden, I do not know what will happen to our world in the days and weeks ahead. Only God can see the future. I pray with all my heart that soon there will come a time when there are no more wars and no more terrorists. I want to believe in a world that is shaped through the love and the peace that God Himself displays to both of us. My Bible tells me that God loves me the same as He loves you.
I want to think that no more innocent people will die, but I know too well the realities of life. You and I are human beings; we have our own selfish thoughts and ideas, and we often turn from the Will of God. It is tragically ironic that thousands of years have passed and still we as human beings have not learned to follow God\'s Will.
I know enough about you to realize that our religions are very different, but it is the same God who created us. I believe no matter what happens in the future that God will be in control of every situation and circumstance. Many people may have to die, including me, but I must fight for what I believe. In this respect, you and I are similar.
I want to believe what you are saying now. I want to believe that you are a good man. But I know that God does not advocate murder or bloodshed. If you have committed these acts of terrorism, killing your brothers and sisters in another land, then God will judge you and punish you.
As my country continues to mourn for all those who died last week, I pray that God will give us greater strength and peace each new day. I also will pray for you and your people. Most of all, however, I will pray that God\'s justice will be done both now and in the days ahead. Each one of our lives is in His hands and I believe in His goodness alone.

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