On Sunday, when I heard the news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed — and that our country had accomplished this long-sought goal, I was glad. The death of one who was responsible for instilling such fear, perpetrating such horror, causing such grief — how could one not be relieved that he no longer exists? Although, really, he does still exist. Perhaps not his body — but his ideas and momentum and the trail of evil. Those legacies remain.
But this isn’t really about Bin Laden. After hours of having the news running in the background (after all, this is what I did on 9-11 — turned on the news and immersed myself in the minutiae of the moment — seeking meaning and understanding), I finally switched off the sound and went back to my various projects. The television remained set to the news station, however.
As I worked, I would look up, to see if anything new seemed to be happening. What pelted me from the mute screen were bold headlines that said, basically:
He’s DEAD! We GOT the Sucka. Killed Him. Really Dead. At last, at last, we slaughtered him. Yay! He should rot in HELL. Burn in HELLFIRE. ROT, ROT, ROT. DEAD, DEAD, DEAD.
Uh, probably gonna be scary around here for a while. Look under your pillows. Amp up your fear. Gonna get worse before it gets better. Never know when the quiet little man on the corner is going to blow himself up right in front of you. But never mind:
He’s DEAD, DEAD, DEAD. We KILLED him. He’s Gonna BURN (except that he’s kind of waterlogged at the moment).
I’m glad the monster is dead. But I’m finding the violent emotion and the slavering delight a little hard to take. Because every time I look up, words of hate push at me from the television and from the newspapers. It’s kind of like expecting to step out to a cool, refreshing rain shower and getting acid rain.
After 9-11, there was an incredible outpouring of love and support. People were kind to each other. They helped. We grieved as a nation and the world also grieved. People united in tragedy and we grew stronger and took comfort from each other. We chose to fight the evil with good hearts and good deeds.
Now, I see vindictiveness (not that it isn’t justified) and gleeful gloating. I don’t recognize the faces today. I don’t feel united. I feel like I’m in Lord of the Flies.
Osama Bin Laden is dead and I’m glad.
I’m also really depressed.