Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama bin Laden

‎"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy." -MLK (but not the famous one, it seems doubtful that the civil rights leader said this, but I attribute it to him as most people are doing, after all, it could be someone else with the same name)

"The world should celebrate when an evil man sees the error in his ways, not when he's killed while proud of what he's done." - Tyler Oakley (I don't know who he is yet, but I like this quote)

I wanted to put up a post with my reaction to the news that bin Laden is dead yesterday, but I was shoulder deep in a paper, in which I quoted bin Laden coincidently enough, so I do so now. Following initial enthusiasm over the death of bin Laden, and who can blame us for feeling excitement upon completion of a goal after almost 10 years in the pursuit, most of the responses shifted in tenor to something along the lines of the two quotes above. While the world might be less bad with bin Laden no longer out there, I fail to see how the death of anyone can make the world a better place, as death just removes things from the world, creating nothing.

However, in the space opened up by this removal, I hope that we can create some things. I hope that we can create better, more equitable and supportive, relationships with nations in the Middle East, especially those fledgling nations which recently voiced their freedom from decades of dictatorship in Tunisia, Egypt, and, hopefully, Libya. I hope that we can create a more free society, rolling back some of police powers we have granted the state in wake of the terrorist scare, and restoring sanity to the airport screening process. I hope our troops come home finally! And I hope that we can create a better future wherein people of all religions or none can coexist in greater peace and with deeper understanding.

There has been some talk that justice has been served, but I cannot see justice in this action. not that I am saying that it is unjust, simply that in the unveiled face of human tragedy that we saw on September 11th I cannot see any way to restore justice to such a thing. What cold comfort is justice to the gaping hole in the New York skyline and American hearts? If some who have lost loved ones in the attack or the resulting wars find some solace in bin Laden's death, I would certainly not begrudge them of it, but I feel no more whole than before bin Laden died.

Are we safer? I don't know. Is al-Qaeda's second in command more capable than bin Laden? Will the threat of American retribution deter more would-be terrorists than further American meddling in Muslim nations creates? Does it matter? Life is fragile no matter how you cut it, and no matter what precautions we take, we cannot prevent every threat to our lives.

Am I glad bin Laden is dead? I guess a little. Not so much because it is an ending, but because it could be the beginning of something better. Because it is hard to hate someone who is dead. And because I have hope.


kathleen ritzman said...

Thank you, Kenny. You have written what I've been trying to say since I first heard the news. I once thought I would feel relief, at least. That's not the case; only sad for us all.

Kenny said...

Glad to hear it rings true. It has provoked a lot of odd reactions.

Also, good to hear from you again!