(Repost from my Tumblr)
The news of Bin Laden’s death brought to mind the crushing sorrow and uncertainty that I (and so many) felt when I saw the live shot of the towers falling. I was angry, and wanted someone to PAY. Some motherfucker had just destroyed, not only thousands of lives, but thousands of families.
Through the years I’ve had time to reflect - we talk about 9/11 constantly, like it was the worst thing that happened, ever. It was so terrible, and yet… terrible numbers of people die every day from war, famine, poverty, lack of access, often at the hands of American forces and policies. We bemoan the tragic loss of that one day, but seem so disconnected from the day to day realities of our own bloodied hands.
Even the incursion that killed Bin Laden no doubt killed innocents, as have many of the battles in this war. We have killed far more innocents than were murdered on that grave and horrible day.
The fist pump on the news of his death was automatic and satisfying. I wanted him dead. I didn’t want a trial. I didn’t want to hear any words from him. I was glad that he’d been taken out. Fuck you, you fucking motherfucker.
Of course, it occurs to me that this retaliatory sentiment is what feeds the fire, allowing the rancor and murderous hatred of one another to continue. I said Avada Kedavra, the killing curse from Harry Potter, and yet… as I recall in the book, my new hero never did. Not even when battling face to face the man who killed his parents, not even after having seen him continue to kill so many of his friends and loved ones.
I’ll think on this for a while, not sure that I’ll ever fully reconcile these twin desires for vengeance and peace. Though, maybe that’s what it’s like for those in the middle of all of this fighting - tired of the death and destruction, yet unable to put down the sword.