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.
7 thoughts on “Should we be celebrating?”
You’re wonderful. And wise beyond your years. Just thought you should know.
I don’t think I’m particularly wise. Many people, including yourself, have expressed the same feelings that I am. I could hardly even watch Stewart or Colbert, because they’re making jokes about the whole thing, and it just makes the bile rise in my throat.
I am, however, wonderful. :p
Also, your blog will not let me comment. And Facebook Wall posts have a length limit, so I’m posting my comment to your blog entry here:
Like Allison, I’ve also noticed the change from celebration to contemplation, especially amongst the media. And I think that transition makes sense: Okay, we’ve accomplished this goal, let’s celebrate for a minute. But now we have to figure out what the implications are, and how this is going to affect the war(s) and our military actions.
I’m glad that the celebration has died down. I don’t harbor warm, fuzzy feelings for Bin Laden, but I wonder at our apparent bloodthirstiness. People are calling for video and photo evidence of Bin Laden’s death — Reuters already released some photos of the death and damage at the compound (although no Bin Laden photos).
I agree with Obama: Bin Laden is not some trophy whitetail that we shot and should now pose with for a photo op. As some writer asked, What would we think if our enemy killed a high-ranking US military individual and then plastered his/her photo all over the Internet and showed it on their news programs? It’s sick, and I’m glad we won’t be doing it. The conspiracy theorists are going to develop their theories anyway.
Like my blog post did, this comment is rather ramble-y. But thank you for sharing your thoughts. Here’s hoping we can both post on more cheerful topics soon.
Beautiful comments Amy. I’m right there with you. :-/
Jon Stewart put it best. His death was a great thing because the face of Muslims is no longer a terrorist, it’s the people in the Middle East protesting and fighting for democracy and peace.
I was happy to hear the news, but didn’t celebrate so much as go out and have a drink, toasting to those who died in the attacks and those who died fighting to find him and kill him, to try and keep us safe at home.
I’ll be much happier hearing the news that we’re bringing our troops home. I’ll remember seeing my friends come back from Iraq much more fondly than I remember where I was when I found out that Osama bin Laden was dead.
Stewart (or his writers, perhaps) makes a good point.
I hope everyone gets to come home soon, too. I know a couple people who have served, one of whom is currently in Afghanistan. I’d like to see him home safe.