Tuesday, May 3, 2011

End of an Era

Sunday, May 1, 2011, was a historical day in American history. I don't usually watch the news; it's predominantly depressing, and I have enough things to worry about in my life. But when I saw on Twitter that President Obama was going to make an annoucement declaring that the United States had killed Osama bin Laden, I flipped on the TV. Even though I was getting ready to go to sleep. Even though I was sick and needed my rest. This was huge. I ran downstairs to tell DH. Then I changed the channel for him to a news network, and he said, "Hey! I want to watch the rest of that movie." Clearly people's perceptions of "historical" are varied.

My initial reaction was one of skepticism. We've been searching for him for ten years. (Well, longer than that, but REALLY looking for the last decade.) Once it seemed legit, I was excited - I was doing a fist-pumping "YES!" in my mind. Then proud when I saw the crowd outside the White House singing the national anthem. Thankful, for the soldiers who protect us. Relieved - the subconscious fears instilled with 9/11 slipped away. I went to sleep that night with a lightness I hadn't felt in some time, unaware that it had been weighing upon me.

Monday, I was surprised that no one was really talking about it at work. There was quite a bit of chatter on Facebook and Twitter, though. And many people began to post quotes, some from Martin Luther King, Jr, others from friends, that became entwined. Here's the one I liked most:

"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

I wish I had those thoughts as my gut reactions. Heck, even as secondary reactions. And I got to thinking about what comes next. Killing Osama bin Laden does not eradicate the al-Qaeda. In fact, it makes him a martyr for them. It empowers and emboldens them. Killing him is like cutting the head off the Hydra. Homeland Security has already elevated the alert status for traveling Americans. I wonder if capturing bin Laden and imprisoning him like we did Saddam Hussein would have been more effective? I wonder if we had shown him mercy, if it would have effectively shown the love that Dr. King was speaking about?

While the end of the bin Laden era is upon us, sadly, it's not the end of terrorism or our way of life in being concerned about our safety. That weight that was lifted Sunday night? Is back. And it won't be gone until light drives out the darkness.
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