Where were you when evil died?
It was the kind of spring day that you wait all year for. I had spent this Sunday doing projects around the house and yard, taking full advantage of this unusually warm first day of May. So when it was recommended we roast hot dogs at the fire pit in the back yard for dinner, the whole family was on board. With a house of full of girls, there can be times when personalities clash. But there was something about this day that created a nice family camaraderie. Everyone was playing nice.
I think we had all finished our first dog when one of the girls checked their Facebook news feed. My youngest daughter’s voice took on a higher pitch then normal when she said “we killed Osama Bin Laden”. I grabbed my phone to see for myself. The first post I saw was from a friend who wrote “just seems unreal to finally catch the Boogey Man”. Then post after post came across my phone about how “we got him”, “Hell Yes” and “God Bless America!!!” Bin Laden was dead and the world seemed pretty sure of it. I think when online people can be naïve some times, believing what they read from others to be the truth but this was different. There seemed to be a certainty in every single post that our greatest enemy was gone.
For almost ten years the name Osama Bin Laden conjured up visions of pure evil. I don’t know if he truly hated America for our beliefs or for something we had done but there was no mistake that he wanted us all dead. To me it’s unfathomable how you could plan the death of thousands by flying two planes into the Twin Towers simply because we are “infidels” and our way of life was so offensive to him. I know the lines of good and evil are usually blurred and I am not naïve enough to think we have always been in the right. But this guy would have gone to any lengths to see us pay for our “disgusting way of life”.
As we finished up our fire pit family time, I started to wonder what this victory might mean for us. It had been so long since we began our hunt for Osama Bin Laden I really wondered more than once if and when we would get him OR if he was even still alive. Naturally, the radical Islamist factions would hate us even more for his execution. No doubt there would be attempts at retaliation against us and our allies. The killing of the figure head of Al Qaeda would come at a price and would fuel the radicals’ fire even brighter. But how would America react? If Facebook represents the opinions of America then there was pride in making our Boogey Man pay with his life. But was it right to cheer so loud? Could we, through our celebrating his death, send the wrong message? To me, something was not right here. Then the fireworks went off… literally.
In the neighborhood, someone was celebrating with fireworks. And it was more than just one person. I could hear fireworks going off throughout the area. People were showing their joy by rejoicing like it was the Fourth of July. In my head I could see the people out in their front yards, cheering and hollering; but should we openly rejoice the death of a man, even one as evil as him? My mind wandered back to the hours after September 11th, 2001. I remembered the unbelievable visions of the Towers falling and then seeing on TV the crowds of people in countries like Pakistan cheering the death of US citizens. It sickened me that people would be so hateful that they would cheer the destruction of over 3000 innocent people.
I am not confused that Bin Laden was in any way innocent and was not in fact pure evil. But as it so often happens the lines become blurred in the right thing to do. Would someone in a Middle Eastern country feel a little sick to see us applauding Osama’s killing? Maybe we should have done a little more congratulating the Navy Seals for a job well done and perhaps more quiet hooray. I consider myself a patriot and I love the USA. I fly my flag on national holidays, I put my hand over my heart and say “Under God” proudly at the Pledge of Allegiance. I don’t condemn others for cheering loud at their pride of our country and what this incident means. I just think I would have done different. I did do it different. Nothing good comes from gloating.
There always needs to be payment for acts of evil and to the victor go the spoils. I remember the story of when Japan was surrendering at the end of WWII. They wanted to hold the signing in private but the US would not agree. America wanted the world to see how Japan was surrendering after waging a brutal and unprovoked war with us…and losing. The signing took place on the deck of the USS Missouri, right in Tokyo Bay, for all to see. But even within the exuberance of victory one needs to show humility. Bin Laden paid for his heinous crimes with his life and all the world will know without us being pompous. But I am glad he is dead. This will not only send a message to others about taking up arms against us but Osama’s death will hopefully bring some closure to the victims of the attacks on 9/11. Payment has been collected here.
But how will we act now that our biggest Boogey Man is gone? Will we be vigilant against terrorists that still want to kill us or will be overconfident about this long awaited but giant success? There has always been a bad guy to hate throughout history and to help us drum up our resolve. Hitler, Stalin, Saddam Hussein all brought us together and helped march us towards victory. It’s much easier to hate an evil man than it is a faceless country. Who will be the next face of evil? It’s hard to believe anyone will come along as incredibly wicked as Osama Bin Laden.
Do you remember how the world came together after September 11th at the idea of fighting the evil of Bin Laden? Do you remember how we had resolve and common purpose? And for a while we were all proud again to be Americans. It would be nice to find that commonality without the need for the face of evil. But to think we can come together that way might just be naïve and that’s not my way. I don’t look forward to Bin Laden’s replacement but you know there will be one. Our world will always have a Boogey Man. Our job will be to take the high road when he arrives…and departs.