Ding, dong, Osama’s dead. And all around me, people are rejoicing, both in person and on the internet. But I don’t feel joyful. I feel solemn and sad and a little nervous. I can’t seem to muster the “Woo-hoo! May he burn in hell!” sentiment that seems to be the gut reaction from others. I also can’t summon my usually at-the-ready cynical flippant side that different friends have released, the ones saying things like, “Can I take liquids on a plane with me again now?” I’ve determined that there are several reasons I’m not feeling the joy.
This doesn’t end everything. We’re still in Afghanistan and Iraq, we still have both military and civilian personnel there who are still risking their lives every day. There are still going to be explosions and gunfire. The death of Osama bin Laden has not changed that. The President still doesn’t have a good answer for when our guys and gals are going to get to come home. It’s such a complicated situation; there is no easy answer to that question right now, and I suspect there won’t be an easy answer any time soon.
I have a hard time rejoicing at the death of another human being. I know, I know. He made evil plans, caused the deaths of thousands of people, and I certainly had no love for the man. Some would even claim that he did not even resemble a human being anymore. But he was. He was just a man here on this earth, probably one who had loved someone at some point in his life, almost certainly one who was mentally ill. He did terrible things, and I do believe that his death was just. There was probably no other outcome possible – I doubt he would have let himself be taken into custody alive. But even when someone’s death is just and righteous, I can’t feel happy because of it. While I’m relieved he’s no longer alive, and I hope the 9/11 survivors and friends/families of the victims might feel more at peace now, and I’m grateful to the men and women who dedicated themselves – and in some cases gave their lives – to make our world safer, that’s it. Relieved, sympathetic, grateful, but not joyful. Maybe I’m just too soft-hearted.
This could mean that it all begins again. It’s hard to ignore the possibility of retaliation for bin Laden’s death. He was not all of al Qaeda all by himself. There are many, many others, and I imagine they are very angry at us now. If they felt they had a just cause before, they feel it even more now. If the military from another country killed someone you looked up to as a leader, would you not be enraged? I don’t want to be at war. I never did. I want to be at peace. And it looks increasingly likely that we won’t ever be at peace again.