Twenty-four hours after I heard about Osama bin Laden’s death, there are only two things I’m sure of:
1. I don’t know how I feel.
2. However you feel is the right way for you to feel.
I’ve read and heard so much from people whose emotions range from elation and pride to frustration and sadness – those who are standing just a little bit taller today and those who are mortified by that type of response. I can see everyone’s point. I can’t come up with any reason for these people not to feel the way they feel, whatever it may be. Really moving, strong, emotional moments like this can stir up lots of feelings and we can’t possibly assume they’ll be the same for any two people.
I do know it’s hard for me to celebrate the death of another human being at the hands of my government, although it’s not difficult to rationalize this man’s assassination. I understand that, after what he had done, our leaders were left with a situation in which there was no simple “right” answer. I am almost positive that if any number of factors in my life were different, I would have been celebrating in the streets last night instead of monitoring the internet for more information or a good one-liner that might help me describe my emotions.
I’m grateful that (from what I’ve read) no Americans or Pakistani civillians were killed in the firefight. We’ve lost too many already.
It’s hard for me to understand the meaning of the word “justice” in this situation. If you define “justice” as the death of the man who has led his followers to kill thousands, then yes. It’s perfect. If you define it as somehow making up for the previous deeds done, there is no way. But if this brings something – closure, peace, a welcome moment of reflection – to those who have lost a loved one, I am glad.
I’m trying to use this as an opportunity to remember times when I’ve been particularly proud of my country, my government, or my fellow citizens. How I felt in the weeks and months following 9/11, for instance, before I started scoffing at American flag bumper stickers and lapel pins. Or when Obama was elected in 2008, when I was proud to be part of something historic and meaningful, before I became disillusioned once more. Or what it was like before the TSA and Koran burnings and ground zero “mosques.”
I’m trying to ride the wave of excitement in an effort to reclaim those feelings and maybe unite with everyone for a moment in our emotions, whatever they are. ‘Cause being proud to be an American feels so damn good.