“JUSTICE has been done.” In this way, President Obama began his speech announcing the death of Osama bin Laden. Navy Seals led a raid on a compound in a small, affluent Pakistani town and killed the “mastermind” behind Al-Queda and the unspeakable events of 9/11.
The world, or at least those who aren’t bin Laden admirers, celebrate. People wave flags and chant the pledge of allegiance in Times Square and in front of The White House in Washington. Fireworks light up the sky. People dance in the streets. Horns honk. Candles flicker. Medals gleam. Polished buttons glint.
I lay in bed last night and listened to the President’s speech. It was suitably grave (you’ll pardon the pun) and dignified.
Today in the media there is much talk of the Arab Spring, the end of the old war against terror and the beginning of Arab democracy. There is also talk of heightened security and raised threat levels.
I’ve been trying all day to figure out what I feel. There is no doubt in my mind bin Laden was an ego-maniacal fanatic, an Arab Hitler with a psychopath’s agenda, self-costumed as a hero of the downtrodden, the Muslim messiah (never mind the thousands of Muslims he has, in fact, killed). I have no sympathy for him. So why, then, do I feel a pebble of sadness in my shoe? Why do I feel this is just another lanced boil — but that the body still writhes under the fever, still suffers from the plague of death-lust?
To celebrate a killing, even of a man responsible for so much agony, a man consumed with psychosis on a cosmic scale, proves only that we, too, are still ill and in need of soul healing.
Has justice been done? Probably. Was it necessary? Given the undeniable fact of who we humans are — savage and vengeful and fearful — possibly. Will it lessen the grief of those who lost loved ones on 9/11? Perhaps, in a small way, and temporarily (Although there is no doubt had bin Laden been captured and brought to trial the prolonged suffering of the survivors would have been immense). Yet his killing will not fill the empty spaces, will not bring back the dead. Will bin Laden’s death make the world a kinder, safer, more peaceful place? Doubtful. We prove, time and time again, we are addicted to aggression and the world is full of would-be martyrs. The cycle will continue in one way or another.
Yes, that’s what I feel most—sadness. After all these generations, still the only way we have of dealing with evil is an eye for an eye and a big street party? Sad.