So, yeah. Bin Laden was killed.
When the news broke on Sunday evening, as the kids settled in to watch The Simpsons before bed, they were befuddled as to why the show was pre-empted to go live to the White House; it offered up a chance to speak frankly with our kids about the current state of world affairs.
Dan and I are both very honest with our kids about shit in the world. Truth be told, I firmly believe in not pretending the world is a field full of daisies in which we romp and play with nothing but smiles on our faces and happy feelings in our hearts. Most of the world lives in a much harsher sense of reallity than we do, in our cushy sweet Western lives. Clean water and no war on our doorstep. Public schools for both my son and my daughter. No worries about female genital mutilation. No wondering if my son will be lured into Martyrdom by some zealot cleric. Children growing up in other parts of the world sadly and terribly have a much clearer sense of reality in a tangible way. How lucky we are. Oh, my god, how lucky we are…
So when the news broke that a special forces unit shot and killed this man who was responsible for having a say in whether or not thousands of lives would be taken for religion’s sake, I was torn. I was honestly appalled at the dancing and celebration in the streets of cities in the United States. To me, there was no difference in their reaction compared to reactions of people in the Middle East cheering when a successful terrorist killing spree happened.
But. BUT. I never lost anyone in the attacks. I have never experienced first-hand the desire for retribution. How do I know that if my husband/child/sister/father was killed on that day almost ten years ago that I would not crave blood? That I would want someone held responsible and given the same treatment as he gave my loved one? That my initial and long-standing reaction would be desire for an eye for an eye?
I cannot judge others for their reaction or emotions. I am worried about the Islamic retribution, I feel anger towards the US government for making decisions that will affect the world that my children are growing up in, I feel glad that he is gone, I feel sad that the world is what it is. I respect that choices need to be made, I am angry that those choices could mess up the world even more.
As for the man whose life is no longer. I hope that in that last moment of your bitter and hate-filled life, you glimpsed truth and compassion and perhaps in some way you felt empathy, sympathy and sorrow for what you did. You were, after all, a human being.