Sunday night as I was on my was home from work, I received a text saying that Osama bin Laden had been killed. When I got home, I turned on my TV and watched with the rest of America as President Obama made the announcement confirming his death. I thought the speech was amazing and I teared up. The cameras then switched to people in a frenzy in the streets shouting U-S-A like we just won the Super Bowl.
After processing this information for a bit, I must admit I felt a bit sick to my stomach and I wasn't sure why. I was alone with my dog and cat and had this incredible urge to be with other people. So I went to the gelato shop at the end of my street. TVs were on in the shop with images of people climbing trees and reveling in the death of Osama bin Laden. I didn't talk to anyone, got my gelato and went home.
Something felt very wrong and I couldn't put my finger on it. I felt like I should be jumping up and down and wearing patriotic colors like the people on TV. Some people posted a quote from Martin Luther King on Facebook saying "returning hate for hate multiplies hate". And then I read multiple comments that condemned people for putting up that quote and that Osama deserved to die. More expressions of hate and anger continued to flood Facebook targeting anyone who wasn't ready to run into the streets and start dancing.
Last night I attended Marianne Williamson's lecture on "A Course In Miracles" and was delighted to here her address the same odd feeling I had about the events from the night before. She described her feeling as being similar to mine and I was surprised to see many other like-minded, confused people. She raised the question, "Were we out for JUSTICE or were we out for REVENGE"?
Don't get me wrong! Osama bin Laden was an evil, horrible human being whose damage on the human race and specifically the United States was incomprehensible. And killing him, I do believe, was a necessary action to make sure justice had been served. Happy and worthy of a street party? No. Necessary--definitely.
Marianne told a story about Dan Rather interviewing 3 people who lost family members in 9/11. Rather asked each of them if they wanted revenge on Osama bin Laden. And the interesting thing was that they each said they wanted justice and not revenge. Rather continued and said, "Well I want revenge!" The fact was that the trauma that these people went through broke them wide open. They were in a space of healing.
What happened Sunday night is that several lives were lost in this mission. Thank God no Americans died. And the courage and skill demonstrated by our Armed Forces was incredible. I am not able to be in a space where I am reveling over the fact that "we kicked Obama's ass". Quite honestly, the images of people carrying on outside the White House reminded me of the pictures from Iraq of women doing that crazy thing with their tongues, arms held triumphantly in the air, when the towers collapsed. Yet here are Americans giving a collective "Fuck You" to terrorists around the world.
Instead, I find myself in a space of reverence and sadness reflecting on what got us here in the first place--the enormous loss of human life because of terrorism. I don't want to celebrate the fact that we killed someone. Instead, I want to pay homage to the fact that we did what was necessary to protect the world from more evil. Is it un-American that I don't want to take to the streets? On the contrary...it is very American that I choose to express myself in a quieter, more solemn and more mature way.
I am glad that the world is rid Osama bin Laden. And I look forward to a world and a country where we focus on healing rather than more hatred.