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Monday, May 2, 2011

"If a clod be washed away by the sea..."

I want to be very careful in what I say here. I do not wish my words to be misconstrued nor taken out of context. I also feel a great need to express some of what I feel about the events revealed to our country last night.

Osama Bin Laden is dead. He was a leader of people who wished death upon those who share citizenship with me in our country. Ours is not the only nation on which the death sentence was pronounced.

We suffered an unexpectedly savage attack during which unsuspecting men, women, and children were killed and for a moment, our nation was brought to its knees. Other attacks in different countries followed. There is no question that the terrorism inspired by Osama was cowardly and evil.

But Osama was simply the leader. He did not carry out the plans nor the attacks. He was the head of an organization--and no doubt, not the only one capable of taking charge and inspiring such devotion that those who followed him were willing to suffer certain death, that they might cause the deaths of many "enemies." I will not be surprised to see another take Osama's place--perhaps one more extreme, more unscrupulous, more dangerous.

That being said, in my mind Osama's death serves an important purpose. For many U.S. citizens, the country no longer seems impotent. There is a feeling that we can protect and defend ourselves from an unseen enemy. The victim mentality can be released.

I do not celebrate Osama's death. Part of me feels relief that a 10-year quest is over. Part feels gratitude that his invisibility no longer protects him and allows him to plan and assign followers to carry out senseless acts of terror. But another part feels shame that any citizen of our country feels exultant over the death of one man--for that is what he was. One can make whatever judgments one chooses about the kind of man he was--but he was still just a man. I watch the celebration and wonder what, exactly, are we celebrating?

I cannot speak to whether or not the death of Osama was necessary. It was the choice our country made--to hunt him and kill or capture him--and I am a citizen of this country and share the responsibility of that choice. I neither defend nor justify it. I simply claim it.

Still, we in the U.S. are no better than those of any other country, and there is a feeling of superiority in the mass rejoicing. As a country we are blessed with greater wealth and material possessions than those in many other nations--this does not make us better, just more indulgent. We have access to more education, higher paying jobs, comfortable homes and abundant food--this does not make us better, just incredibly blessed and probably equally ungrateful for those blessed circumstances. We are superior to no one--and yet there is a feeling that we were competing in some horribly twisted game, and with Osama's death we've somehow become the "winners."

We haven't. Terrorism is alive and well. No doubt we'll see more of it--and very soon.

Some are questioning whether or not Osama "deserves" the quiet burial allowed him. I say, yes. And to do anything but allow the dignity of laying him to rest in the manner of his beliefs would simply justify those who believe we are nothing but a nation of self-indulgent people who regard with importance only their own lives. The man is dead. He will feel no further punishment, but anything done to defile or disgrace his remains will serve only to inflame those who have followed Osama's leadership.

And so on this day of triumph, part of me weeps that such a day is necessary--that it is viewed as right and proper and normal, leaving me recognizing that "Each man's death diminishes me, For I am involved in mankind." All mankind. Even the ones who wish me dead simply because I was born in the U.S.A.


  1. Thank you for this. You've articulated the things I've been pondering about all day.

  2. I'm with you. Thanks for posting this.

  3. Agreed. And you put it so well.