May 1st 2011 – Today it was announced to the world that Osama Bin Laden was killed by a US special operations team in a 40 minute firefight. Here’s the break down of how I felt:
10:00 pm – First got wind of the news from various updates on Facebook. I was pretty skeptical until I turned on the news to hear George Stephanopoulos talking to various commentators. My first reaction to that was a strange sense of relief – let’s face it, for a lot of us, this man was the face of evil. I think I summed up this feeling well in my Osama-is-dead-facebook-update: “It’s like someone killed the boogie-man.”
I quickly went from weirdly relieved to feeling totally surreal as I waited for Obama to make his statement. Listening to his statement I really latched on to the message he was trying to send about unity and peace. The destruction of this powerful symbol is something that will allow for deeper healing to finally occur.
11:00 pm – I was then watching footage of the crowd outside the White House – flying flags, singing, cheering. A part of me felt joy watching my fellow citizens come together – unite – in celebration. And another part of me felt a bit horrified at the celebration of someone’s death.
Soon after, a friend on Twitter made this statement: “I apologize for the fact that this country, this world, resorts to murder as a form of justice.” And as much as I know I felt relief but an hour before, I realized that she was partly right. Everyone is talking about how this is justice. As the strange i-can’t-believe-this-actually-happened feeling passed, I felt that I would much rather have seen Osama captured alive and put on trial. Is it possible that this was the purpose of this operation? Sure, but I doubt it was.
12:00 am – People began to frighten me, talking about how they wish they could have been there to spit in his face and hope he burns in hell, calling this a happy ending. I was disgusted. It’s one thing to be grateful that a terrorist is no longer able to terrorize but it is another entirely to relish in his death and wish such pain on another human being.
Now I realize I sound a bit hypocritical, but hear me out. I believe that Osama Bin Laden was a “bad” person, willing to kill innocent people. But I also believe that all life is sacred, even if that life has been given to a “bad” person. But what really breaks my heart is that many of these remarks relishing his death came from my fellow Wiccans.
1:00 am – I began to write this, trying to sort out how I feel and how I ended up feeling that way. Another Twitter friend put it well: “Call me a hippie. Perhaps it’s what I am. But I cannot celebrate the death of any man.” I can, however, celebrate the destruction of a symbol, the promotion of unity, and the promise of healing.