Monday, May 09, 2011

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Euphoria, relief and reflection...

So I guess we can ignore that last post. Nothing can stop Obama know, barring a colossal tanking of the economy and/or a significant hike of income taxes.

I was sitting on the couch Sunday night, watching Geraldo Rivera of all people (really can't stand that guy) and he was handed a blue card while he waited for an unexpected speech by Obama.

Bin Laden was dead, killed by a predator drone strike over a week ago.

My instincts told me it was true - that he was dead. Elation gripped my wife and I, as we watched enraptured, soaking up each detail as it came. Then the president swaggered down the hall and made it official.

America - fuck yeah.

Even better, it wasn't a cold and distant machine that brought him down from miles away and a week ago. It was CQB (Close Quarters Battle) bullets earlier that day - two taps to the head. Clack! Clack!

It was a great evening for our country; Obama had made good on Bush's promise. We will find you, we will hunt you down, justice, will be served. Indeed it was.

I couldn't help but smile as the news covered jubilant throngs in front of the White House, at Times Square and yes, Ground Zero. Family members of 9/11 victims, comrades of the fallen first responders, all joined together. We were united again, we were whole.

But a tiny scratching in the back of my brain, flashed to the radical mobs who danced in ecstasy nearly ten years ago across the Arab world upon hearing of the twin towers fall. My stomach recoiled at the sight of these primitives celebrating the massacre of 3000 innocents. And yet here we were, dancing at the thought of a bullet to the brain of a monster.

I, and the rest of the country, are conflicted. Relieved and overwhelmed that true evil has been vanquished at the end of a righteous gun, and yet, that euphoric glow is tinged with a melancholy that only grows with time.

It is a heavy burden we bear, as the shining beacon of hope and a truly, deeply moral force in the world. We cannot allow ourselves to embrace fully the animalistic lust of hate and revenge. Even the most hawkish of hawks, of which I fully admit to being one, will eventually have to pause and reflect.

A man was blown away at our behest. We have now learned that he was likely unarmed. On the one hand, this is not troubling whatsoever. The world is safer, that is certain. A great evil is surely burning in hell.

But the passing of this pathetic excuse for a man will not bring back those that were lost. Time will reveal, as it has with other great atrocities, that though the triumph over this living symbol of hate was an absolutely necessary course of action, we will still bear scars from our necessary violence.

It is the price we pay for being the greatest nation on God's green earth.

In this information age, there were plenty tell tale signs of our inner conflict. Throughout facebook, my friends and acquaintances alternated quotes back and forth- a long and rambling one by Martin Luther King, that I'd never heard before, that warned against the evils of celebrating a death. The other quote was one I'm familiar with by Mark Twain - "I've never wished a man dead, but I've read many obituaries with great pleasure."

I thought both quotes were highly appropriate for our quandary. I was certainly a bigger fan of the Twain quote. But it turns out, neither quote is correct. The MLK quote is a mash up from various people, and the Twain quote was said by someone else.

No matter - the juxtaposition fit.

I am elated that Bin Laden is dead.

I am sad that I am elated over one of God's children meeting a most gruesome death.

And in these two thoughts, which I have just now written down - I find my salvation. Through the help of my creator I can submit my fallibility and my sins to Him. I can let myself feel both, and pray. Pray for our troops, pray for my country, and even eventually pray for the rotting corpse at the bottom of the Arabian sea, along with the tens of thousands who seek to kill in the name of their hijacked faith.

Ultimately we must let go of the anger we feel for Bin Laden and his kind, the twisted and radical purveyors of hate. We must let go of our own hate, lest we become consumed by it.

So I'm not too bothered by Obama's decision to withhold the gruesome photos of Bin Laden's opened skull. There is a morbid part of me, and a vengeful side of me that would derive satisfaction from it. There is another part of me that would want the 9/11 families and first responders to have access to it if it would somehow bring them even the tiniest fraction of peace or closure.

But Obama is absolutely right when he says we don't need to spike the football. We should be more sure of ourselves.

We don't string bodies up on bridges. That's them.

We don't mutilate corpses. That's them.

We don't throw acid in the faces of little girls who want to go to school. That's them.

We don't rape little boys. That's them.

And we typically don't kill unless we have no other choice.

When we do, there is usually no joy. The joy that does arise on occasion, when the target of our wrath is particularly heinous, is always fleeting.

Right now I'm feeling humbled. Humbled by our troops, especially the heaven sent SEAL Team 6, and humbled to be free. Free to live my life as I please, to raise my family in an atmosphere of laughter and love. And to look forward to a brighter future, as the fall of this pariah and the decimation of his organization al qaeda seems to have drained the fervor just a bit.

I pray that the same fate that befell the Japanese, that is - having the "crazy" literally beaten out of them - is already befalling radical Muslims. I pray that we will not have to go as far as Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

But if we must, we must.

And we must not falter, we must not fail.

We must bring a righteous fist upon our enemy if his actions demand it, and we must put our faith in God to redeem any transgressions in this path if we are forced to take it.

God bless our troops. God bless our president. And God bless America.