(ETA: As more has come out about this, it's become clear that Friday was the day the President gave the go ahead, but the actual operation was carried out on Sunday. Just wanted to add that for clarity.)
I don't celebrate death in any form. That said, what happened Friday needed to happen, should've happened, and it's good that it did happen.
9/11 profoundly impacted us all. I want to look at bin Laden's death through the filter of several means of his life's impact.
From the perspective of our military effort, and because of the brave men and women who have fought, and many that have died in the war against the agents of terror and murder - through that filter, I light a victory cigar over bin Laden's death. While I don't think his death will have any kind of military impact resembling what it would have had he been killed in late 2001 or 2002, the morale boost to our service men and women, and to those making major decisions in Washington, whether intelligence personel or policy makers, is deserved. And, although I'm not generally a political supporter of President Obama, as an American, I say, "Well done, Mr. President" to the resolve and courage he showed in giving the go ahead to last week's operation. Had it failed, and had that failure become public, his presidency would be assured to be only one term. Assured. I admire the actions of ANY politician that put the good of the nation above the good of their own political aspirations and "legacy". I remember coming home late on the evening of 9/11 and watching the news intently with my family, seeing over and over the footage of the towers collapsing, knowing that so much human life was being crushed under their weight, and seeing the panic in the faces of the people on the streets of lower Manhattan, and saying to my family, "Someone has to pay for this." Through that filter, I light a cigar.
I remember the people trapped on the floors above the impact of the planes, with flames shooting out of the building, chaperoning that ugly, black smoke that filled an otherwise beautiful blue fall sky, and I think of what an excruciating position they were in. No one should ever be in such a position that where they are is so torturous, so terrifying, each breath so painful and toxic, each second so filled with dread and panic, that jumping hundreds of feet to a certain death is the best option in their mind. I've been through some terrible things in my life, but I can't imagine what that was like for them, and frankly, I'm not brave enough to. For those people, through the filter of their lives, their morbid experience, Friday was a good, and just, day.
I think of the families of the 3,000 or so who so senselessly and needlessly lost their lives on 9/11, and through the filter of their lives and their loss, justice, or at least as much as they will get this side of eternity, has been served - and that's a good thing. Bin Laden's death doesn't breathe life back into their lost loved ones, but it does maybe breathe life into their own healing and perhaps bring them some measure, even if small, of closure.
Through the filter of my own human experience and personal faith, I can't celebrate the death of anyone God created. At the same time, I don't mourn his death. Not even a bit. I mourn his life. I mourn his life for the lack of life in it. I mourn his life for the mourning he introduced into the lives of so many innocents. I mourn his life for the contagious way in which he promoted his deadly religious passions. I mourn his life for the versions of himself he created in so many others. I mourn his life for the lives that will still be lost, and the other innocents sent into mourning of lost loved ones, because of his legacy, his "martyrdom", and the poisonous seeds his life planted.
A wise, young friend summed it up best..."I don't feel right cheering for a man dying. But this is good, and justified. So I feel proud, but I can't cheer."...And that, as a human being, as an American, and as a child and creation of God very much mirrors my own feelings.
I wouldn't put too much stock into the footage I've seen on the news of crowds cheering and celebrating. In the clips I've seen, it's mostly been young people, college age or so - and more often than not, among college aged kids who join in with riotous crowds, they'll accept anything as a reason to party, drink lots of beer, riot, and just act as general hooligans. Look no further than the campus of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville in January of last year when a young, and to that point in his career, extremely mediocre football coach resigned and snuck out of town to take another job. Riots, lots of beer consumption, mattresses being burned in the streets, people getting hurt, numerous arrests - and the truth is, they couldn't have possibly cared less about the coach leaving. I wouldn't read too much into it.
Whatever true and lasting justice is to be carried out on Osama bin Laden is now in God's hands - and with that I'm comfortable through any filter.
Now, as to the comment section, I'm gonna both grant a LOT of leeway in expressing your feelings about all of this AND actually set down some commenting regulations. I want anyone and everyone who might want to comment on Osama's death to do so FREELY, regardless of what those opinions are, but here are some rules...
- It's perfectly fine to say you agree with "so and so's comment", but otherwise...
- NO COMMENTING ABOUT OTHER COMMENTS.
- NO DEBATING, whether personal, spiritual, or political.
- NO DEBATING ABOUT ETERNAL TORMENT.
- NO TAKING ISSUE (in the comment thread) WITH THE COMMENTS OF OTHERS.
- Any comments that are at odds with these guidelines will be very hastily deleted. Zero tolerance. It's nothing personal.
This is, in many ways, a deeply personal issue on many levels, and I want ALL of you to feel safe in expressing your opinions concerning it. Please feel free to use the "anonymous" feature as you comment if you wish.