Follow by Email

Important Life Lesson From Osama Bin Laden?

September 11, 2001, was a day that the US and in deed the rest of the world will never forget, right? Right. Because of a man by name Osama Bin Laden.There are two lessons Osama and his Al Qaeda team teach me about life. The first one is contained in an article I submitted to a campus newspaper on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr., 2004. If you are interested in that article, Click here now to read it.

However, for today, I will reflect on the second lesson that I learn from this man who represents what President Bush has termed 'the axis of evil'. You know, the other day, I was wondering at what could have made those men who carried out the terrorist attack, be willing to give up their lives. Look at it this way, these men, according to intillegence sources, spent months, even years in training. Many of them attended higher education, and spent countless hours traning as pilots. Yet, all the while knowing that it was all for the purpose of committing suicide.

These men made elaborate preparations to die. That fateful 9/11, they woke up, probably bade their families farewell, and drove off to the nation's airports to die. Now, no matter how we feel about these men, we must give them the credit that what they did was extraordinary. I wonder, can I ever make such elaborate preparations, just so I could die? What force drove those me willfully and deliberately to their graves? Some say, hatred. May be so, but I believe it was something more than hatred.

As I pondered on this line of thought, it became clear to me that the quest for meaning or purpose is by far a deeper need than our desire for pleasure. For those terrorists, all Osama had to do was make them believe that they were fighting for Something greater, for a Cause mightier than they were. Yes, the power of Osama lies in manipulating the innate yearning in the heart of us all - the search for meaning. But don't wave that off so easily. 9/11 is an ugly reminder that the will to meaning is so deeply rooted in humans that we can easily die for that for which we believe in.

I don't know about all the academic stuff in psychology or even philosphy, but this much I know: the Freudian philosophy that says that the need for pleasure is the primary motivation of human behavior, certainly fails to explain the sad event of 9/11. It is certainly not the will to pleasure that drove those men to sacrifice their lives, and that of thousands of others . It was the belief that they were doing it for a purpose. I have heard that their belief system says that if a person dies in a Holy War, then he is quaranteed a special entrance into paradise.

Here is what this whole thing means to me: First, each of us, deep in our hearts, long for meaning; to live for Something or Someone greater than we are, and if necessary, to die for such a person or thing. In this, I differ not from the rest of you. I do not agree with the belief system that drove those men to their death, but I do learn from them about the power of purpose. As I go to bed tonight, I marvel at the effect a single individual with an over-riding purpose, good or bad, could have on our world. I can't help but wonder, am I committed enough to discovering the meaning of life, at least for me, and to giving it the best that I've got?