As for many people around the world, my attention over this last week has been drawn to the news of the killing of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan.

I’d like to offer my own, NVC-ish take on it.


Many people in many countries celebrated on the news of his death and the actions of the American government, and it’s military branch, for bringing this about.

Some people have expressed their celebration in a way that might be difficult for some to relate to, for example, I read some comments from Americans outraged by the celebrations of their countrymen on the grounds it brought Americans down to the level of the terrorists.

NVC invites us to look beyond the form of expression to the human feelings and needs.

What were these celebrations really about?

I have read some say they are celebrating the killing of Bin Laden. While it may seem so on the surface, I believe the expression of celebration is because some needs have been met. When life has been served, when life has been made more wonderful, then expressing gratitude and celebrating seems wholly appropriate.

There are many people who were deeply and painfully touched by the consequences of actions instigated by Bin Laden and his organisation. I’m guessing those celebrating are sensing their pain has been heard (and felt), are hopeful their needs for peace and security might now be better cared for. Maybe their needs for balance and shared reality have been met too.

NVC invites us to bring our attention to the present rather than stories of the past or predictions of the future. In the moment of hearing the news of Bin Laden’s death, for many there is relief, joy, sadness and hope – all finding expression in the form of celebration.

I’m remembering after the attacks on 9/11 some of the people who supported those attacks also celebrated. This was hard to stomach especially by those who lost loved ones during the attacks. I’m guessing those who celebrated 10 years ago were also expressing some of their needs being met.

Were the celebrations, when considered at a deeper level, really so different?

Does this perhaps point to a shared humanity between those on both sides of a line we have created in our thinking about each other?


There is also mourning at the news of Bin Laden’s death. For many the reaction was both celebration from some needs met and mourning for some other needs not being met.

Just to be clear.

I personally abhor the killing of anyone, anywhere and at any time. I wish to live in a world where we get our needs met other than by inflicting fear, pain and death on others. Whether that’s inflicted by ‘terrorists’ or by soldiers makes no difference.

I want security and peace for myself, my loved ones and everyone else on the planet. I mourn that those with access to the means to kill are not yet choosing different ways of relating to each other and expressing themselves.

Many people have ideas about the future involving increased violence from both government controlled military and from ‘terrorists’. I share this concern and mourn that the continued cycle of violence in our world shows few signs of diminishing.


I believe both the celebration and the mourning are important parts of healing and moving forward. I doubt, though, this healing can take place until we have the kind of awareness allowing us to see through the form of how we express ourselves to the underlying needs and shared humanity.

I believe that shared humanity is always there, no matter how hard it often is to find beneath the differences between us.