Indeed, the monster is dead. The most wanted and most hated man in the western world was killed last week in Pakistan, and his body was buried at sea. This man that caused the death of thousands in the United States, and cost us many more lives in the wars afterward, has finally been wiped from the face of the Earth.
So why am I not happy about it?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly a good thing that we finally got him. His presence has been a thorn in the side of the civilized world for over a decade now, and the very fact that he remained alive despite all attempts to the contrary has done immeasurable damage over the years. Of course, we all know that his death doesn’t mean the end of Al-Qaeda or Islamic Fundamentalism in a larger sense. Someone will rise up and take his place, and the struggle will go on. It always does. Even so, the death of such a prominent figure among their ranks will no doubt deal a massive blow to their cause. That’s something I can absolutely get behind.
All that said, then, what is my problem? If Facebook, Twitter, and Cable news are any indication, this should be the happiest day of my life. Why am I not cheering in the streets, roasting effigies and screaming death to Osama? I mean, these guys certainly seem to be getting into the spirit of things…
Oh, wait a second, that’s not right. Hang on, let’s try this again…
No, that’s not right either. Okay okay, I’ve got it.
There we go. See the little American Flag? That means it’s all good.
Maybe it’s just me, but I guess I find something very off-kilter about celebrating a person’s death. No matter how bad that person was, he still was a human being. Even Osama Bin Laden was a little boy once, with brothers and sisters, with parents, with hopes and dreams. The influences in his life made him into the larger-than-life villain as we view him today, but it doesn’t change the fact that there’s still a soul underneath all that.
What is my point, you ask? I guess I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how our life experiences turn us into the people we eventually become. If I’d been born in Bin Laden’s place, can I say that I would have turned out differently? I’d like to say yes, but I honestly don’t know. I still would have been the same person, just pulled in a different direction through circumstances beyond my control. And then I would have been the monster, and people around the world would be celebrating my death today.
So no, I’m not happy. I have no desire to pump my fist and mindlessly shout “USA! USA!” I’m grateful that this chapter of our history is over, and I’m relieved that in the very least, this man specifically can do no more damage to our country. At the same time, I’m saddened that yet another human life was taken, that the potential inherent in all of us developed into something so hideous and disgusting that we had no choice but to put it down.
I do not mourn for this man. I mourn for what he should have become, as I do for all who are ripped away from their own humanity as he was. Before we throw the confetti and release the balloons, let us first remember that old adage.
There, but for the grace of God, go I.