While I seldom write about politics (it's not my gift), the latest news is too large to ignore even on a blog such as this one. The announcement of Osama bin Laden's death did not reach me until yesterday morning. Midday, I sat down to read various news reports about the killing; I had already found on Facebook an endless series of posts celebrating the event. I finally posted this note to a friend:
I so hesitate to celebrate, and believe that his death should be met with solemnity here. American arrogance is our Achilles heel, and I believe our assassination [sic]of Osama makes him a martyr for his cause and will trigger a severe reaction. "May you live in interesting times." We certainly do.
Of course, I acknowledge the importance of this event and the necessity of sending the message that we will not stop fighting Al-Qaeda. Bin Laden's death was long overdue. The seizing of computers, records, and other property from the bin Laden compound is surely a victory in itself.
I accept bin Laden's death as the necessary evil of any war, especially as I consider the continued terror attacks experienced by an unwitting, innocent public in countries across the globe since 9/11. Bin Laden's removal is only one more step against terrorism, and I cannot celebrate, not truly, until terrorism is banished from the face of this earth. That day will not come in my lifetime, and I bear the sorrow of this knowledge for the generations that will suffer in the interim.
My internal source of conflict is in how many of us are gloating, a sin of pride perhaps. Brian Turner, a United States Army veteran who served in Iraq, authored a book of poetry, Here, Bullet, about his own experiences at war. In it, he wrote this line: It should break your heart to kill. And today, dredged from the impulsive pages of Facebook, I retrieved this snippet of wisdom from someone quoting Martin Luther King, Jr.: Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars... Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
Of course, I see the crux of fighting an enemy who embraces his own death so plainly, while we prize our own survival and the bettering of life for generations to come; there are no values that we share with which to find common ground. This is not that kind of war. I am caught in a terrible web of late, having laid my own hand on a replica of Fat Man, and found it repulsive and chilling, and then seeing for a moment that laying waste to an entire society sends the most efficient "quit your bullshit" message of all. This is contrary to my nature as a mother, who when first drafting this post, paused to inhale the sweet fragrance of my little son's soft skin as he kissed me this morning. Define casualty of war. Define it, again.
To America, I say dust off your hands from this task and pursue the next act of preventative maintenance with grave resolve and a sense of humility. To the soldiers whose bloody hands protect this hallowed ground upon which I have been able to grow, live, marry, study, and find employment—all acts of my own choosing, I say thank you. And I pray God has mercy on us all.