May 2, 2011

Life on the Couch: So, this thing happened yesterday...

...and I've had no idea how I'm supposed to feel about it.

I watched along with millions of people around the world as my President announced that the American military, on his command, had killed a man who had spent the last decade being a modern-day boogeyman... and I was frightened. I listened to reporters and correspondents discuss the end of the war on terror... and I was skeptical. I watched footage of a crowd outside the White House singing and chanting and celebrating this boogeyman's death... and I was disturbed. I read statements from my own friends who were fiercely joyful at the news that a man had been killed... and I worried. I heard congratulations being offered by people I admired to other people I admired... and I squirmed.

I also wondered... why he was killed. Why he wasn't captured, and tried. I wondered what happened in that mansion in Pakistan that led to more death.

I've been thinking about 9/11 today, remembering the horror and the devastation and the fear and the mourning. I've tried to make those feelings fit with the feelings I've had about the death of Osama Bin Laden. I can't make them fit. I think about all the people who lost someone they loved as the result of orders and plans made by the man who was killed on the orders and plans of the American military and Barack Obama. I don't want to begrudge these victims the feeling of closure this might give them, the small amount of peace they may get from knowing this man is dead.

But it feels so wrong.

Here's what doesn't make sense. In his address to the nation (to the world), Obama said that justice had been served with the death of Bin Laden. But what happened last night wasn't justice. It was vengeance.

Justice would have been his capture and trail... even if the end result was the same. I am not a military strategist, or a politician, or an expert on foreign policy. I'm not a Democrat or a Republican, an atheist or a believer. There are a lot of situations where I don't like to take a stand one way or the other because I just don't know enough about it to do so. But sometimes I have to trust my gut. And my gut is telling me that it's not right to celebrate Osama Bin Laden's death. I could ramble on and on about why, but Martin Luther King Jr. said it better than I ever could:

“I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

Thanks to all the people who posted this on their Twitter feeds or Facebook statuses, and helped me to understand why I cannot celebrate alongside so many people that I love and respect.

1 comment:

  1. Amerbamdjfjdsjfjdksmd. Yes. I'm slightly disgusted by all the celebrations over this. Celebrations and patriotic "OUR MARINES ARE DOING US PROUD" stuff. The news channels are making an effort to mention that is was, indeed, San American led mission. Like it's important. Or relevant. Or something to be PROUD of. Ugh. Murder and war are not reasons for patriotism or national pride. Flag-waving is not a way to express yourself.

    I was kind of disappointed in Obama for that speech. I really think it should have been more... well, less like a bloodthirsty warlord. Or even a placatory speech, really: "Look, we did it, justice is done, America." it felt either like he wanted to justify the war or he wanted to incite a patriotic view of the war - or re-incite it. Which is very... Republican, for lack of a better word.

    The whole thing is kind of nauseating. He's dead. That's... He's dead. Now move the hell on.

    His death is purely symbolic; it doesn't change anything, not really. Not significantly. It doesn't MEAN anything.