Tuesday, May 3, 2011

OBL's Death - My Take

My initial reaction was overwhelming emotion I could put no descriptor on. I thought of my friends in Afghanistan and those who, over the years, fought against terrorism and radicalism, and I swelled with pride at their service. No thought of jubilation came to mind.

But I do not begrudge those who danced in the streets. Understanding the need to cheer and why people did it, I enjoyed the chants of “USA” and the national pride. However, I thought, is this the time to cheer? War is ongoing. Thousands still stand on the frontline. This turning point gives closure to some and relief to others, but is the end in sight?

On some level, I was disturbed. It reminded me of Middle Easterners burning American flags and cheering. And, I think more importantly, should we cheer death? Isn’t that what we’re fighting against? Against those who seek the death and destruction of our way of life? If death is the answer, when does it stop? I’m not sure I know the answer. Gandhi once said, “An eye for an eye will make you blind.”

And the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh said, “The pain of one part of humankind is the pain of the whole of humankind. And the human species and the planet Earth are one body. What happens to one part of the body happens to the whole body.”

When the shock wears off and the national unity and prides subside once again, our troops will still be in Afghanistan and Iraq. Al Qaida will still seek to destroy America. While I believe his death has had an effect, we don’t yet know what that is. Hopefully this is the beginning of the end and I pray that one day we can all have closure, but not at the elation of anyone’s death.

1 comment:

  1. I was on a silent hallway, guarding the 24 sleeping teen offenders in the county juvenile residential facility when I read the news online. It overwhelmed and surprised me instantly with relief and celebration.
    I believe most of us that served in that part of the world came home thinking we did a good thing but somehow we left the job unfinished. Mission creep and diplomacy shaded the original reasons we went into Afghanistan and left most of us looking for the right words to justify why we felt we were doing the right thing to people back home that hadn't put boots on the ground, smelled the surrealness of spice, curry, dust, waste, death, life, foolishness and wisdom on the streets of Kabul, or shared a meal of hummus and mystery meat with Afghan friends while the call to prayer echoed off stucco walls and unfamiliar mountain tops. Then the news that they had taken out Bin Laden.
    Finally. People in the States wondered why it took so long. Nothing in Afghanistan happens quickly. I remember months of pouring over daily reports hoping to find a clue that we knew where he was or find that he happened to be at the sight of a bombing. The fact is, we never stopped looking. The American public just forgot we were out there.
    You'd think that would annoy me, but the truth of it is that the fact the American public forgot means we have been successful at our job. We kept it there. It didn't come home to our shores.
    In WWII everyone was involved in the war because we were under constant threat of being attacked by the enemy on both shores. We scrimped as a nation and rationed food, metal and other resources in support of the war effort. America was at war.
    Today, American troops are involved in at least two full scale wars and still we cannot say America is at war. The American military is at war, but the American public is only in danger of hurting and helping themselves. We've done our job. Its working. Bin Laden was killed in hiding in a foreign country, not on the streets of our hometown.
    The "general masses" in America tend to use any excuse to party, riot and/or celebrate: criminal trial decisions, team wins, team losses, Thursdays, etc. Maybe some of the celebration over the death of another human being was out of line. I think, however, if you look closely beyond the mayhem, you will find many of our brothers and sisters in arms that are saying a silent prayer for those friends they lost and breathing a quiet sigh of relief that at least a part of this mission may not have been in vain. Then back to work. Always grateful, never satisfied. On to the next crisis. Sleep well. We got this.

    Chris W.