Like millions of other people, I spent this past Sunday night glued to my television, watching the news of Bin Laden’s death break across news stations and social media.
It’s an historical happening, and details are still unfolding. But I’ve stopped watching. I just can’t do it anymore.
I remember where I was on September 11, 2001. We had school that day, but we didn’t have lessons. We moved from period to period, eerily silent, watching television all day. Because my hometown is very close to the Mexican border, and we didn’t really know the extent of the attack, my entire campus locked down — no one could come on campus, and we weren’t allowed to leave. I was in Geography class, and watched the second plane hit. Watched both towers fall.
I wasn’t angry. I’m not certain I ever was. I was just so…heartbroken, paralyzed by sorrow. So many thousands of lives lost: parents, siblings, children, friends. And all because of hatred. On that day, a group of people in the Middle East, the perpetrators of mass murder, rejoiced. They rejoiced as smoke filled downtown New York, and people ran for their lives.
Ten years later, on Sunday May 1, 2011, the leader of the terrorist group responsible for so much pain and sorrow was killed. A small group who had been training and preparing for months launched a covert operation that resulted in Osama Bin Laden’s death. And in Washington, and New York, and in hundreds of other towns, people rejoiced. They rejoiced in death.
Does anyone else notice a parallel?
I’m not saying that I wish Bin Laden hadn’t been killed. But I don’t recall ever wishing he would die. And now I just can’t bring myself to celebrate.
There’s not a whole lot of structure to this post, and it has nothing to do with books or reading. And I may get flamed for it. But in a time when thousands are celebrating, all I feel is sadness and confusion. Should I mourn the loss of a man who was responsible for the death of so many? Should I celebrate the fact that he was killed in front of one of his wives and several of his children? Do they count as “collateral damage”? Does the fact that I’m not celebrating make me insensitive to the people who lost loved ones on 9/11?
I don’t know the answers. I can’t know what it feels like to have lost someone I loved on 9/11 or in the ensuing war. I haven’t experienced the kind of loss that so easily leads to hate. But I can’t stop thinking about Rob Bell’s Love Wins, and wondering how Bell reacted to this news. Did he pray? Did he rejoice? As cliche and overdone as this is, what would Jesus do? Something tells me he would have cried.
So I’ve turned off the news. Instead I’m watching “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” watching volunteers come together to provide homes and hope for people. I’m trying to put some more positivity into my mind, and hoping that I’ll pass it around tomorrow. I hope you’ll do the same.