Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I am so angry at bin Laden...

I thought I'd wait a day before saying anything about the still unfolding story surrounding the death of Osama bin Laden.
  • My first - strong - impression was a feeling of relief that bin Laden's diabolical influence has come to an end. 
  • It was followed by a sense of sadness that we live in the kind of world where violence is so often perceived as the only viable option. 
  • Next I experienced profound distaste in response to the way many people appeared to gloat over the killings, and glory in brutality and death.
  • But at the same time I understand that most of the spontaneous "celebrations" have amounted to a kind of closure vis-a-vis open wounds remaining from the attacks of Nine-Eleven.
  • Then I was impressed by remarks from both President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, who helped me see the bigger picture even as my pacifism and idealism tend to blind me to the difficulties and responsibilities of leadership in a troubled world.
At the end of it all I'm still very angry at bin Laden for putting us in this terrible position, and for masterminding and perpetrating a series of crimes so heinous that sitting back and wringing our hands simply could not be an option. His death was a direct result of his personal choices, and the actions of other terrorists.

Yes, I understand the history of the Middle East, and I'm well aware of our complicity as "Western Powers" in the unjust and self-serving (at least the allies thought so at the time) partitioning of territory and apportionment of power at the end of WWI. Granted, much of the tension and the conflict has been exacerbated because of our behavior.

However, the world map has always morphed in response to conquest, and power, and the politics of bad behavior. Such has been true for thousands of years. The sins of the past may be appropriate fuel for argument and negotiation and compromise; but they do not justify terrorism, they do not excuse violence, they must not evolve into the further sins of today.

The violent end of bin Laden ultimately makes me more angry at bin Laden! It's the same general idea as the time - recently - when I encountered an extremely rude and unhelpful person in "customer service." Eventually, and after several unsuccessful attempts to resolve the problem reasonably, I had to resort to my "middle-school teacher" tool set, including - reluctantly - a tone that comes across as harsh.

I finally got the result I was looking for, but I believed the cost had been too high. So I asked to see the supervisor.

"I need you to understand that I am angry," I said. "I'm angry because I was forced to compromise my commitment to speak pleasantly to all people at all times. It's wrong to put nice people in that kind of position!"

And it is unconscionable of terrorists to put us (America, the UK, Canada other free societies...) in this kind of position, where all the potential interventions involve some kind of moral compromise. I wish there had been some other way to bring Osama bin Laden to justice, I really do. But it appears he bears the sole responsibility for setting things up to go down in this tragic fashion.

So is it true that "Love Wins"? Yes a thousand times over! But in the meanwhile I'm afraid we have to deal with a big, smelly pile of hate. And it's not always going to be pretty.

And that, my friends, makes me angry - DEREK


Steve said...

Every time a say the lord's prayer I am reminded that my request is for all of us on earth to be; "as it is in heaven". thanks for the post. Steve Wilke

Anonymous said...

Derek, as you often do, you captured the confusing range of emotions that I have had with regard to this situation. Thanks for your thoughts. Thanks, Kim Uchimura

dick said...

Angry, maybe. But in my case more sad. Like Reinhold Neibuhr, I believe there is a place for hate in the world, especially as we hate evil. But I don't like it.

Jayne said...

I find myself incredibly sad that such a man, with all the wealth, influence and talent that bin Laden had, chose to waste his talent on hatred and terrorism, instead of trying to bring different groups of people together in peace.

C Ackroyd said...

You have explained why I personally felt no great elation. I only felt sadness that that kind of evil existed in the first place.