There is something to be said for not writing about an issue or event immediately after hearing of it or experiencing it.  Sometimes certain situations require time to cogitate, and must roll around in one’s mind first.  How you feel immediately will not always be the way you ultimately will feel.  Time changes attitudes, especially after reading and hearing more about it and discussing it with others.

The death of Osama Bin Ladin is one of those situations.  I have run the gamut of emotions, and I do not discount the possibility that I may change again as time moves forward.

On the night that it was announced, I did not have the TV news on at all, and totally missed it live.  Even my husband – the dedicated, non-stop news junkie – didn’t have it on, either, so it went right by us – until about midnight when Ray noticed a news story as he was cruising around on his computer prior to going to bed.

“Bin Ladin’s dead” he said – almost nonchalantly.  ‘Huh?”, I responded.  “Who reported that?”, I asked, cynically.  Then I added, “And, I won’t believe any of it until ALL the news services have also reported the same thing”.

I quickly realized that it WAS being reported all over – and apparently was true.  The skeptic in me also wondered if they got the right guy, but it didn’t take long for me to begin to realize that this really did happen, and it was “for real”.

My first instinct was not jubilation, but relief – and gratitude for the Navy Seals heroic actions.   I honor them and the risks that they took to complete the mission both efficiently and quickly.  I am grateful that the deed was finally done after all these years.  I’d begun to wonder if we’d ever be able to do it.  Despite all these feelings, as I watched the rejoicing in Washington DC continue into the early morning hours, I became increasingly uncomfortable.   At that time, that response felt to me to be shallow, and maybe a bit “over the top”.

What exactly WERE they celebrating?  With all the difficult issues within the US, like recent floods, tornadoes, bad economy, discord over politics, etc. – did we so desperately need a definitive “something” to celebrate that this served that purpose?  Finally we have a clear cut victory!  Did these people (many of whom appeared to me to be college students), think that now that this one person was dead, that our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, etc. would miraculously end (and they would not have to go to war)?  Did they think that the death of the of the Taliban’s leader would end the Taliban and all wars having to do with them?

With Bin Ladin in hiding for so long, even if he was as involved as they now say he was, he had to have had others who did the “leg” work for him.  I conclude from this that there probably is no shortage of leaders to replace their “fallen leader”.   The Taliban may be in some disarray, but I can see where they could, and probably will regroup.   To us – to me — the killing of Bin Ladin is justice served.  However, I suspect that others in the Taliban see it more as revenge, and will easily respond in kind.  The truth is that revenge begets more revenge.  We have to be ever watchful for these kinds of attacks – not only on our shores, but elsewhere in the world.   We did not defeat an army – only one important man in that “army”.  I suspect the war continues…

Something else bothered me as I watched the celebrating that night.  It seemed to me like a Pyrrhic Victory. For example, the 9/11 and the military casualties are just as “dead” as they always were. Killing Bin Ladin didn’t suddenly change things and bring them back to life.

I’m sure it’s my Christian roots kicking in – but there also seems to be something awry in celebrating any human being’s death, no matter how evil that person’s deeds might have been.  We killed him.  It was justice served.  It was the right thing to do.  However, despite how correct this action was, I could not “rejoice”.  I was relieved, and grateful, yet, at the same time, I felt sad that he was such a waste of a human being.  I suppose it’s our shared humanity that makes me sad.  It sounds awful – even to me – that I have allowed myself to share anything with one so evil, but the reality is that I shared “humanity” with Bin Ladin, though only as far as the two of us shared “human being” status.

Because of this, I have always struggled with the death penalty.  Killing another human is a grave and a very “final” decision, one that cannot be reversed.  I have always questioned whether humans should be making these kinds of decisions about other humans.

I wished that they had been able to take Bin Ladin alive – then put him on trial.  However, I acknowledge that doing so would have been way too risky, putting the entire mission in jeopardy.  Plus – do we need the fall-out of what a trial could do to the mood of our nation?  Maybe it’s best for all concerned to move on as soon as we’re able and not dwell on this man any more than needed.  This IS war – kill or be killed.  That, in my opinion, was the mentality of the Navy Seals inside that compound when confronted by Bin Ladin, who may have been reaching for a weapon at the time he was shot.  It could have had a very different outcome…

At this point, I wrote an entry in Live Journal – my locked journal open to chosen friends.  Against my better judgment, I also left one ill advised status message (what I realize now was an inaccurate Martin Luther King quotation being spread around) on Facebook, too.  I was not prepared for a few of the responses I got.  I had clearly not seen the other side of the coin.  And – it’s possible I may come to regret this blog entry…?!

What I failed to take into consideration was the intense emotions which those who have paid a direct price for Bin Ladin’s actions.  Those who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks, or military service families whose lives have been forever changed in the last 10 years were these people.  The military has seen so many deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan – – so many wounds – legs lost – LIVES lost – all as a result of Bin Ladin’s Taliban.  Of course this is understandable celebration time!  It is THEY who protected the rest of us so that we could live our lives relatively normally, and be allowed to have these beliefs.   It has come to my attention that it’s way too easy for me to sit here and pronounce that we should not celebrate his death.  All of my thoughts are simply “concepts” – – untested concepts – – because I have not had to pay the ultimate price for this man’s evil.  How would my actions and feelings differ if I had lost a loved one as a result of this man?   Thankfully I have not had to know.

Do not judge another’s actions and beliefs until you understand from whence come their feelings.   In my opinion, the ability to do this is strangely lacking in our country – as each of us proclaim our views, rarely hearing and understanding the depth of why others might have an opposing view.  We judge and proclaim what we think “all” should believe – not allowing ourselves to understand.

I still stick to my personal belief that I cannot celebrate any human being’s death – despite their evil deeds.  I still stick by my belief that SOME of the celebrations MIGHT have had little depth to them.  However, it is a personal belief and one I do not necessarily expect others to share.  If I was in different circumstances in my life, I also might not hold to it.  I now have a more in depth understanding of some of the celebrations – especially in the military community and for those directly affected by 9/11.

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