I think, though, that his death should not be a cause for celebration but a time to step back and reflect on the last decade. Because, really? Ten years and thousands of lives, military and civilian, have been lost. And it makes me twitchy to hear chants of USA! when I think about that. Is this the end (in the sense of purpose) of what we've done in Afghanistan? (Iraq, I s'pose, is a different ball game.) The whole thing seems a Pyrrhic victory.
And then there's the fact that I am, as a Christian, called to "love my enemies." Many other people have written about this. Surprisingly (because I am, at heart, a renegade), I found the response from the Vatican rather appropriate and thoughtful:
Let me be clear: I shed no tears for bin Laden, whose murderous beyond-the-State reign, left nothing but death, grief and trauma across multiple continents. But the pursuit of bin Laden was not justification for what has been an escalation of violence and de-stabilization in the Middle East and Northern Africa, by two American Presidents."USA! USA!" is the wrong response
This is bin Laden’s lamentable victory: He has changed America’s psyche from one that saw violence as a regrettable-if-sometimes-necessary act into one that finds orgasmic euphoria in news of bloodshed. In other words, he’s helped drag us down into his sick nihilism by making us like too many other bellicose societies in history -- the ones that aggressively cheer on killing, as long as it is the Bad Guy that is being killed.Beyond Retaliation
Waking Up in a Post-Osama World
Matt Daloisio, who co-coordinates the Witness Against Torture Campaign, sounded a note that we find far more authentic than triumphal celebration. “10 years,” Matt wrote. “Over 6000 US Soldiers killed. Trillions of Dollars wasted. Hundreds of thousands of civilians killed. Tens of thousands imprisoned. Torture as part of foreign policy. And we are supposed to celebrate the murder of one person? I am not excited. I am not happy. I remain profoundly sad.”
So, yeah, I feel sadness, not so much at Bin Laden's death itself, but at the events of the last ten years. I, fortunately, didn't lose anyone in 9/11, but my roots are in New York, and we have family still there. 9/11 happened four years after we moved out of New York, but I remember the panic I felt at the announcement--I was a senior in high school, sitting in English class, and I ran down to the main office to call my mom to see if we knew anyone who worked in or around the Towers. My grandfather, who was a Brooklyn firefighter, lost people he trained. My aunt worked in the WTC for years; she moved in '92, but she knew people who still were there.I hope that those who lost loved ones on 9/11 feel some sense of closure from the death of Osama Bin Laden.
I know I am supposed to feel like celebrating, but I just feel a deep sense of sadness as I grapple with a flood of memories from the day the planes flew into the World Trade Center and the events that followed.
A year and some later, people yelled things about 9/11 at me when I said that I was against the war in Iraq. Half of those people had never been to the damn city.
Anyway. There's a sort-of "I don't really know what to think" thing going on with me. I've ended up with it is in pardoning that we are pardoned and lines from Wilfred Owen ("What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?") and Matthew Arnold (yeah, ignorant armies and stuff) going through my head. And then there's hold onto the good and love your enemies, which is funny, because I'm not one for quoting the Bible at anyone, including myself...
Now I'm rambling. I'd love to hear others' responses.