There is no doubt that Osama Bin Laden was an evil, evil man. A man, who at some point, choose to walk with the devil and turn his back on the light. His crimes are numerous. His actions unspeakable. He was a cancer, a disease. There is no doubt.
But why do I find myself feeling a sense of loss today? My sadness feels deep and quiet. I am sad for the world. I felt this way twice before.
The first time: September 11, 2001. We all remember where we were. I was in Vermont, on a conference call. A colleague kept interrupting me and I was frustrated, until finally I read her Post-it. It said, "Get off the phone. Planes crashed into the World Trade Center." Everything that followed that day was scary. The clogged phone system, which did not allow me to call my parents and hear their voices. The fear that someone I loved somehow was on a plane or in NYC or the Pentagon. The roaring of the National Guard planes leaving Essex Junction to head to New York. The rumbling military trucks racing past my apartment in Fairfax to secure the Canadian border. We thought we were so far away--at home in Vermont. But terror and evil were knocking at our doors.
I was sad. And quiet for a long time.
The second time was December 2006--we were in Ohio. It was Lily's first Christmas and New Year's. I remember we were preparing for a night of lobster tail and steak. The news came on. Saddam Hussein was executed. People cheered. I felt quiet.
The thing with it all--to say that I am sad about the death of Saddam or the death of Bin Laden is incorrect. Their deaths are just deaths. But my saddness is at the joy of others around the world; the dancing and cheering like the Munchkins singing, "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead." I am scared of the shouting and cheering and photos of blood spattered rooms. The glorification of death, of killing. No matter what the cause--the gang mentality and language of violence and redemption and punishment--it is scary.
It feels like a crowd who could turn at any moment--a crowd that could begin crying for more blood and more hatred and more violence.
When we celebrate death and killing, we lose something in the depths of hate. We become no better that those who wish to bring on terror to our back doors. Killing requires no explanation. A death is a death. A life is a life. To feel joy at a death, is to become dead ourselves. We lost so much on 9/11 and everyday since--so many beautiful men and women fighting in the Middle East. So many souls--spirits and hopes just gone. There must be a better way.
When I explain these moments in history to my girls, I will tell them about the thousands of innocent people who died in the Twin Towers, at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania, because of hatred. I will tell them that Saddam HUssein, a criminal and evil man, was executed, because that is the law. I will tell them that Osama Bin Laden was killed by the U.S. military, who protects us, but who was also ordered to kill Bin Laden, because they felt out of options--they felt his death was the only solution. I will tell them that we live in a confused world--a world where violence is okay when there is a reason. And I will tell them that we can live in this world, but we don't have to be of this world. I will tell them that we all must say no to violence--even when it knocks on our door.
And I will tell them I am sad.