We offered our neighbors a hand, and we offered the wounded our blood. We reaffirmed our ties to each other, and our love of community, and country. On that day, no matter where we came from, what God we pray to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family.
Was I naive to hope that just as we can unite within our suffering, we can also unite within our relief? I suppose I was. I knew that the reactions to this news would be varying and strong. Within moments of signing on to Facebook and Twitter, my heart began to hurt, and my speech returned to me.
I never expected to feel elated over the news, as I have never been able to celebrate death. For me, thinking of 9/11 is sobering. Bin Laden's death is merely a reminder of what led to this day. To quote a Huffington Post article a friend posted as I type this: "His death is satisfying not only because of what he did, but because it prevents him from doing any more violence in the future in the name of religion". I believe that his death or capture was necessary, but I do not revel in death. I do not rejoice in the fall. Having said that, I am sympathetic to those who genuinely feel joy and closure. Then I see it... "Welcome to Hell, Bin Laden". Jubilee that "we got his sons too". In this moment, my heart broke for our country. Again. I have thrown out every expletive in the book, but I never have told someone to go to hell. As a person of faith, I take this seriously. I know EVERYONE is capable of evil. I always hope for redemption, though I know that often it never comes. I agree that justice needs to be served, but when it must be served in this manner, it still breaks my heart. Because Osama deserves to be there does not make it a joyous truth. I will never acknowledge someone being in hell with anything but heartbreak; for the reasons they are there, for the pain inflicted on others, and also for the brokenness that led a person to live a life where that sentence is considered justice. There is nothing joyous about that. I will never witness those around me gleefully welcoming a man and his family to hell without feeling sorrow and disgust. When I see that, I see our own ugliness and evil. It may be what is necessary, but it is tragic all the same.
What I am encountering the most is people using this to bicker. We have become so divided as a nation, so offensive in our communication, so egocentric in our world views, that instead of letting this information sink in, people comment on Bin Ladens death and then insult their opposing political party in the next breath. People are arguing over which President should get what percentage of "the win". They ignore Obama thanking the tireless efforts of our military, and quoting Bush in his speech, and claim he gives nobody credit but himself. Frankly, I think drawing attention to those arguments is insulting to those in the military. If a person wants to give credit that strongly, let them be all that is discussed. Why not simply shine the spotlight on those who served, instead of using their service as a way to get people to take a side? I'm watching comment threads fill with conspiracy theories (some new, some terribly threadbare). Status updates are filled with people managing to take this news and use it as a platform for every political issue that they always gripe about. How is this helpful? How is this necessary? What does it say about our minds and souls if our first instinct if to use this information to promote our own motives? I believe these times bring out what is truly at our core, and I'm brought to tears by what I am observing today.
No matter your feelings towards the news, this is a time where everybody should be able to sit in peace, if just for a moment. To celebrate, perhaps not celebrate death and destruction, but the fact we can hope to at least be a step closer to ending this horrible chapter of our nations history. This morning, I am filled with grief again. I have seen how torn apart we really are. I have seen how selfishly we still prioritize. I have sat here heartbroken, taken in the vitriol, and wondered how long we will continue on this way. Extremism brought this tragedy to our country, and now we let our own extremism continue to keep us at war with each other. It is my naive hope that we can try to unite as a country. I feel that until we can learn to respect, to consider, to love each other, we will never win.
I close with a quote from the same article mentioned before. Here is the link for those who want to read the post in its entirety: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-raushenbush/celebrating-a-death_b_856124.html
"So, let us mute our celebrations. Let any satisfaction be grim and grounded in the foundation of justice for all who have suffered at bin Laden's bloody hands. And also justice for crimes against God -- for using God as an instrument of terror and and promoting distrust between peoples of different religions and nations. Let us put bin Laden's body in the ground, and in doing so bury his disastrous and blasphemous religious legacy."