Letters of Mass Construction

No Joy In Death

I know it will shock no one that I am writing about Osama bin Laden today. As you look back in life there are always moments that mark the passage of time. Some of them are wonderful and beautiful. My first date with Sheri is one of those. It was one of those dates where everything went right and 19 years later we are still together. Or yesterday, my beautiful niece and her awesome husband having their first child (we plan to be fake grandparents to that kid. We have to spoil someone).

There are also those moments marked by despair and tragedy. The death of my sister Mary Lou and best friend Curtis are two personal ones that still haunt me. I can still remember vividly the massacre at Columbine. Sitting in my classroom crying at how senseless the world was sometimes. September 11, 2001 will also be a day I will probably remember on my deathbed. It marked me that strongly.

Sheri and I sat glued to the TV set as we watched the events unfold. We had to tear ourselves away and go to work. Explaining it to my students. Watching the press coverage. Feeling numb for months after the event. Not to mention the direct change, for the worse, of our world. The personal freedoms we let that madman take away from us. I will always believe that much of our reaction was wrong headed. We did exactly what they wanted. We acted afraid. We let them terrorize us.

The summer after the 9/11 attacks Sheri and I visited New York for the first time. I can remember standing at ground zero feeling the weight of the giant hole. All the loss. All the suffering. We walked by a wall with the names of the dead scrawled on it. Messages from their family. Pictures of those who were no longer with us. We weeped openly. The horror carved into my heart forever.

Last night when President Obama announced after ten long years we had finally found Osama bin Laden and that he was killed in the ensuing fire fight I felt a sense of releif and closure. He was a violent man and he died a violent death. I will not miss him. The world is a better place without him. I will admit I had hoped to bring him in. To make him stand trial. To face justice in the system he hates so much. It is what our country likes to tell the world we stand for, justice for all. Don’t get me wrong though. I don’t care we killed him. I hold no sympathy for a man who long ago gave up his right to call himself a member of the human race. I would call him a cockroach but that’s an insult to cockroaches.

This doesn’t change the fact that I am extremely disappointed in the reaction of some people last night. I wish with all of my heart we had not taken to the street like our hometown had just won the Superbowl and celebrated. There is no joy in death, not even his. I remember vividly how angry as a country we were that members of extreme religious groups took to the streets and celebrated 9/11. I don’t think what happened last night was any different. I truly wish that a simple candlelight vigil to remember the dead had been our reaction. I wish this was the image we had sent to the rest of the world. We do not glorify death, we remember the dead.

I don’t feel like this because I am afraid of retaliation either. Terrorists will find a reason to attack, no matter what. I just feel a sense of sorrow at how blood- thirsty it made us look. I long for peace. I desire a world where dignity and respect are the way everyone does business. The world is always looking at us. I want them to see what quiet dignity looks like. Someone has to step up and be the example. Last night we missed a chance. Maybe in the coming days we won’t. There is no joy in death. Osama bin Laden terrorized the world and now he is gone but he has left behind his hatred. Let us rise above it or his death will mean nothing.

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2 Responses to “No Joy In Death”

  1. Hannah says:

    You put into words exactly how I have felt the last 24 hours….thanks for doing it way better than I would have.

  2. SheerChaos says:

    I finally felt a sense of pride to be an American the other night when our President announced Osama’s death. But I too, felt the same as you. How could we cheer and celebrate a death. Never is death something to celebrate even for a man as hated as he was. We should have been celebrating the closure for the victims left behind his massacre. Very well said.

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