Monday, May 2, 2011

Thoughts on Osama's demise

Last night at 10.00 pm, I saw flash go across my Twitter feed indicating that President Obama would be making an announcement at 10.30 pm EST. So, my curiosity aroused by the fact that the president was requesting time on the national television stations at 10.30 on a Sunday night, I decided to stay up to see what was going on. Normally, I would have been bound for bed by that time since I have to get up at 6 am in the morning for work, but I figured I could handle it for a day.

At 10.30, I flipped on the television and found a news station that had the talking heads wondering what was so important that the president need to announce. They originally considered it had something to do with Libya (which, to be honest, was also my first thought). Then, about 10.50, some 20 minutes after waiting for the president to appear, the news started to filter out that Osama bin Laden had been killed with no shortage of varying details (in this case, "rumors" would be a better description) as to his demise.

My better half and I both looked at each other in amazement and not some small degree of satisfaction. The perpetrator of the worst terror attack in our lifetimes had come to suffer a not totally inappropriate fate at the hands of the military of his avowed enemy. He was killed in a surprise attack against his compound where he had spent, according to reports, much of the last six years.

We watched as the television showed scenes of spontaneous celebration breaking out in various parts of the US. I followed my Twitter feed as people from all over the world offered various commentary on his death, ranging from the witty to the macabre and everything in between - much of it by people who I know as being mainly apolitical at best. The actions of September 11, 2001, planned by Osama bin Laden, had now been revisited upon him and justice, such as it was, had been served almost 10 years later by the nation that had suffered under the repressive memories that he represented.

And yet, I now stop to ponder, almost 24 hours later, just what is the appropriate reaction in this situation. Should we feel glee at the killing of another individual, even one as evil (subjective though that term may be) as Osama bin Laden? Does his death restore the sense of peace and security that America (and much of the rest of the world) may have known prior to 9/11? Does it bring back to life those who died on that tragic day or repair the lives that were ripped asunder?

There are no easy answers to these questions. For me, I take no satisfaction that he died the way he did but I am not unhappy to see him gone. I miss the sense of security that I had prior to 9/11, illusory though it may have been, but recognize that it likely will never return to what it once was in my mind. But then again, the days passed are always better than today in our minds so this is not surprising. I did not suffer losses directly as a result of that day but I do not know how I would feel if I had - and I am glad that I do not have to worry about that feeling.

My hope for tomorrow is that it will be better and brighter than today. I hope the spectre of Osama bin Laden will disappear soon and the negative inspiration that he provided will fade as the hope of an entire region replaces the hatred that he so fervently espoused with the strong push for freedom that has enveloped it over the last several months. May his legacy be not his hatred and violence but the recognition by people that he was the antithesis of what we all desire and the hopes we have were encouraged by opposition, and successor, to him.

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