He jolted out of the room and demanded we turn on the TV with a tone of urgency I had never heard from him before. As we struggled to get to the first news channel, the tension in the room kept increasing until finally we read the news that marked a consequential moment in American history: “OSAMA BIN LADEN IS DEAD”. And as we sat mesmerized by the television screen , slowly sinking onto the couch, a wave of relief washed over me. Justice had been done. The man who had taken the lives of so many finally had his own life taken away. In the words of a friend, it signified a “pseudo-close to a chapter that has thus far defined the world we’ve grown up in”.
And after watching Obama’s address to the nation, I, with the impulse of any contemporary college student got onto the Facebook and Twitter. There, not only did I see the euphoric posts of my peers, but the raucous celebration of the death of a human being. Posts of “Osama is dead. Good riddance” and “the arc of the moral universe always bends towards justice” . And although I’ll admit some were quite humorous, most expressed the same general sentiment: Osama is dead, it’s time for celebration.
With the TV on, I proceeded to watch the celebrations outside the White House, chants of “USA” and displays of patriotism at the death of a fellow human being. I texted my dad and a few close friends to alert them about the news. I proceeded to have a texting conversation with a close friend:
Me: When did the world become so cruel that we revel in the death of another human being?
Friend: Since the beginning of man… It’s sad.
Me: I understand that a man’s actions are his legacy but celebrating a man’s death is a reflection of your actions too. They’re blasting “God Bless America” outside. Am I the only one that’s slightly disgusted by this?
Friend: No you are not the only one, people are becoming more monsters every day, slowly and surely humans are losing what makes them human. Too many people don’t think, they just follow thoughtlessly and accept someone else’s beliefs as their own.
Me: The president of all people think this way.
Friend: Morals and politics are like water and oil in America, why do you think I want to live elsewhere if I or someone can’t help blind sheep.
Me: You said it. Hit it on the nose. Thank you for being a smart American 😛
Friend: I’d like to think I don’t belong to a country but rather just say I live in one, although to push for change you have to belong to it. I belong to the human race not a monster race.
Me: I wish everyone thought that way.
Friend: Its a rough situation though, where I stand morally fits but not everyone can forgive because they won’t let themselves. This path is difficult, how do you tell those who lost someone to forgive, that the person who killed their loved one is going to be treated like a human when they treated your loved one as an obstacle, in a human world this is possible but with so many monsters it seems unrealistic.
Me: I agree but the humanity has to start somewhere. Kindness has to begin with someone saying “their karma’s going to be a bitch” and leave it at that .
Friend: Wrath and revenge overcome and blind people.
Me: That’s also a part of humanity isn’t it? Emotion?
Friend: It is but people are consumed by it and that’s when it becomes a problem. People believe too much in an eye for an eye. Humanity exists, and it is hard enough as is to tell the masses, but how do you push a government and the officials that run it towards this? Old men with grudges making deals with the devil acting as the devils advocates, its too much to handle for one person alone, but one person can start it.
Me: Obama is a step right. All we can do is hope and make sound judgments as to who we vote for, and do our part as citizens in this mass chaos of politics.
Friend: Its like Harvy in Batman, clean shoes always get dirty no matter where you walk and when you walk in shit some of it always stays especially when you live in it and surround yourself by it. Masses have power but need a strong public leader, not political (someone who is the least corrupt, and is willing to fight the corruption), public leader a person with a heart.
And there were others that expressed the same sentiments that I did. In particular, a fellow classmate posted: “I don’t mean to dampen the mood, but does anyone else find the raucous celebration to be a little distasteful? Not that there isn’t great inherent satisfaction to be had in dealing with bin Laden once and for all, but rejoicing over the death of another–even a guy as indefensibly horrible as Osama–is, I feel, beneath us. Does this not directly contradict the principles we stand for? Happy to hear thoughts on this”. Discussion on this status reached the general consensus that the celebration was for the delivery of justice to a symbol of hate, fear, and terror. “The wiser among us are satisfied that a symbolic leader who espoused the slaughter of innocence has been silenced.” Another online article expressing the same sentiments: http://www.frumforum.com/is-it-wrong-to-feel-joy-at-bin-ladens-death
There is no question as to the fact that this event brought people together, giving American citizens reassurance that we are able to find people who have done so much wrong and give them justice. However, there are others that righteously believed that his death in itself was a celebration. A student went as far as to say “considering what he did and what he stood for, I’d say that he lost the right to be treated with human dignity a long time ago. If people want to celebrate his death, then there’s no problem, because he voluntarily gave up his rights to be treated like a person.”
And I will admit, I have no real connections with September 11, 2001. Although I consider myself an American, I am a second-generation immigrant that moved here when I was 7. None of my family or friends was directly involved with the collapse of the twin towers. And although my uncle was scheduled to go work at the Twin Towers the day of, the crisis was averted. After 9/11, like the rest of America, I mourned the death of innocent individuals, I complained about the recession but fed money into the economy in the hopes that other Americans were doing the same. I was lucky enough to not have lost a loved one in the chaos. Maybe after burying pieces of your loved ones, principles are not of principle.
And as we talk about the repercussions of his death, we must keep in mind that he had family too. He had three wives, each with a slew of children. And as odd as that may sound to us in the U.S., each one of his wives was devoted to him. As human beings, they had found something within him to love as well.
Honestly, I am not big into politics. As a matter of fact, I tend to avoid the political discussions that always seem to pop up at Indian social gatherings. Not to say I don’t know what is going on in the world, but arguing about the outcomes seems trivial when our own actions lead us to the unfavorable option.
All of the information regarding his death is still “hush,hush.” There may or may not be retaliation by al Qaeda. There may or may not be another war. Pakistan may or may not have been helping keep Osama hidden. Obama may or may not win the 2012 election. Families may or may not have gotten closure from his death. However, we can all agree that in order to create (yes, create) peace in this world, we have to start with our own actions. As comical as the Batman analogy seems, it is applicable to the situation. The status of our nation depends on one person making a difference. Perhaps we have all become pessimists in Gotham, but we need to remember the utopia we strive for. There may not be perfection in the world, but peace is what we can attain. Maintaining that harmony is another story.