Monday, 2 May 2011

Osama Bin Laden

Overcast, rain, storms in forecast - temps 55

Am in Pittsburgh. heading off to Oakmont this afternoon for this wonderful crime writers/readers festival. It's called Festival of Mystery and is put on by Mystery Lovers Bookshop, a really amazing bookstore in Oakmont. All sorts of crime writers will be there, signing their books. It's at the Greek Orthodox Church. Doors open at 4pm, but the signings start at 5pm and they sell tickets at the door. nine dollars, I believe.

It'll be terrific - hope to see you there.

Woke up to the news that US Special forces had killed Osama Bin Laden. I was amazed, shocked. Happy....but also uncomfortable. And I didn't know why. I didn't feel like I should be celebrating. And yet, it seemed great news. And then I looked at my blackberry and saw Michael's email, and he put it so well. He wrote it last night - from Montreal. He knew I'd be asleep, so he didn't call with the news. But here's what he wrote:

"was watching celebrity apprentice when the network switched to breaking news. Obama reported that beginning last August they began to target Osama bin Laden. Finally, yesterday, they had reliable enough intel to send a squad of troops into Pakistan, where they killed him and recovered his body.

It was good news, but didn't feel good. Felt bad to celebrate another's death, however much it was justified. "

I appreciate not all of you will agree - and please, feel free to tell me how you do feel. It is just so complicated. I think of the courage of the Special Forces team. Can't imagine what that raid was like. I think of the men and women fighting Al Queda and the Taliban. Their courage.

I watched the Today show and the conversations with family members of people killed in 9/11. Oh, God, it was so sad. Mostly, I think Michael and I feel deeply sorry 9/11 happened, and that Bin Laden's actions have lead to so many deaths. Including, finally, his own.

I don't pretend to understand the depth of pain of those who lost loved ones in 9/11 and the subsequent wars. But, oh, it breaks my heart that so many people, most of them so young, have died. And yes, I'm sad that this was necessary.

I know some of you lost sons and daughters. I think of young Thomas, and others, who would almost certainly be alive today if it wasn't for Osama Bin Laden.

Am I glad Bin Laden is gone? God help me, yes. But I don't feel like celebrating.

Let this lead to peace. I'm not so foolish as to expect it will, but I do hope it will. But I know for sure peace begins with me. Not weakness, but peace.


Critique Sisters said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Linda Gray said...

That is exactly how I felt on hearing the news. Pragmatically glad and relieved, but emotionally saddened that killing is needed, even his. I do hope it gives some closure to those who lost loved ones in the 9/11 terrorist attack. If only for that, I applaud this moment.

jackie said...

I share your feelings. Relieved that Bin Laden is gone but do not feel it's right to celebrate anyone's death. Mixed feelings really that I find hard to understand. So much death and pain for no reason. I wish that we will have peace but ....... Jackie

Anonymous said...

Thanks for putting into words how I feel. It just doesn't feel right to "celebrate" the death of another person. But, a large part of the world feels a great sense of relief.

Lee Ann said...

It is a very difficult moment. I do not rejoice that another human being has lost his life--it seems to me that enough people have died in this conflict--but there was also no way for justice to be served by leaving him alive. And yes, maybe Thomas would be alive if 9/11 had never happened. But, it *did* happen and we did lose Thomas and many other young people. I'll admit, I sat there last night, weeping confused tears. Something is over: now we need to figure out what that something is.
Lee Ann, Thomas's mom

Anonymous said...

Always was told "two wrongs don't make a right" and in a lot of ways that's the jist of my confusion and frustration over this latest development. bin Laden was wrong to commit the evils he orchestrated and if ever there was a truly evil person, I suspect his picture is what I would see. Even though I cannot wrap my arms around the hunt and destruction of another's life,I don't delude myself into thinking that bin Laden wouldn not have continued a course of death and tragedy until he died. My heart goes out to all who have lost loved ones over the years to fanatics, terrorists and war.

Jodi said...

I too am feeling mixed emotions. I live in New York City and was here on that terrible, awful day - one that is burned into my memory.

I am relieved that he is gone, but do not celebrate (my religious tradition says we do not rejoice at the death of our enemies).

Ironically, I missed the news last night because I was watching episodes of MI-5 on Netflix - with fictional spies chasing fictional Al Qaeda terrorists.

Linda said...

I have to agree with most of these posts - glad his actions lead to his death - but I cringed to see Americans celebrating - seemed too much like what we've seen the other side doing, and how did that make us feel?
When will we rise above it all?
Too many human beings have died - on both sides.

lil Gluckstern said...

In spite of the celebrations, I felt very sober last night. I understand that this is highly symbolic, and important, but, sadly, there is always another to take his place. I'm just worried about the fallout among those who revered him. Enough people have died because of what this man envisioned. My thoughts are with those who lost someone to his evil.

Cyndy said...

I understand the mixed emotions, but that comes from our own self image and self protecting impulses. For those who risk their lives everyday to keep us safe, for those who sacrifice their lives to protect our freedom, this is different. Those who lost their lives and loved ones 9/11, their loss is tragic, but all loss of life is tragic...this act was not to avenge, but to protect and defend. We all like to be peaceful in spirit, but when face to face with evil, be it genocide, as in Sarajevo or Nazi Germany, or the Sudan, or terrorists of all nationalities, Irish, Arab, Israeli...we cannot ignore the necessity, however ambivalent we are, for action. For the US, there is no draft and those who wish can be absolved from action. That is good and bad, because it allows us to distance ourselves from the pressing and compelling reality of the threat of evil to mankind. What a luxury, to let a group of others carry that heavy burden so that we can keep our self image intact.

JeffB said...

I, too, feel conflicted. Bin Laden was responsible for some very heinous things, but I can't celebrate his, or anyone's, death.

My fear is that his death can be read as a rallying cry to his followers - not following a social/political leader with another rational view but, rather, a person with a twisted perception as to his life's mission - and what this will bring about in the world as a result.

Mary Vehr Mumaw said...

thank you Louise & Michael for expressing the confusing feelings ... I had just returned from a weekend of facilitating a retreat on the goodness of God within EACH & EVERY person & so it would go against all I believe to 'rejoice' in his death ... I feel sadness that Bin Laden never engaged what I believe is the Goodness of God's (or Allah's or whatever deity) energy available for us to live beneficial lives ... and yet, I am aware of his death as a blessing of closure to so many ... in the shower I found myself saying my ancient prayer from childrenhood recited upon death "may the perpetual light shine upon him" ... felt good to know it is all now in the hands of the Divine.

Jeaniine said...

I am relieved to know that others are experiencing the conflicting feelings about Bin Laden's death that I am feeling. I was afraid that there was something wrong with me. What I am feeling is dread at the repercussions this is going to cause. I fear for our president's protection, as well as those serving in our military.

Barbara said...

I'm a peaceful person and I would have said I would never rejoice in the death of another human being, but I do rejoice. The man desecrated Islam, he ordered the slaughter of so many people and destroyed the lives of so many others - I cannot feel sad. I'm also glad he was buried at sea so there is no grave to honor him, but mostly I'm glad none of our Navy Seals were injured in the mission.

Anonymous said...

You put it very well, Louise. I, too, was happy but uncomfortable. I watched the shots of people in New York celebrating and I do know that so many of them lost friends and loved ones on 9/11. The employee that I went to at post office here in Austin was interviewed after 9/11 because his brother was the airline pilot who put that plane into the ground in PA rather than crash into the White House. Gives me chills even now that I knew someone so close to a person who was faced with such an unimaginable decision. Horrible.

But...I still felt strange to be celebrating. We have friends who have loved ones serving in Afghanistan now and also ones who have family members who have been killed. I'm the daughter of a military man and maybe some of that has rubbed off on me. I'm incredibly proud of the Navy Seals who went into harms way so that we could all be safer today. I still mourn the people who were killed.

I want to say that I pray that God will bless us all, in all the world, and let us come to a greater understanding and tolerance of each other.

Anonymous said...

I think your husband said it very well -- that is exactly how I felt. I just can't celebrate the death of another human being -- even the most evil of beings. I don't mean that I disagree with the action taken, but it just doesn't feel right to talk about killing with glee.

Lora in Florida said...

I feel the same way Louise. I am glad that there is one less terrorist threat, but I am having trouble rejoicing in someone's death to achieve that. No matter how evil he was. I read that he apparently held one of his wives as a human shield. She died. Another death. Another evil, but punishable by death? And yet, I do not choose them over my fellow Americans. I ache for my American sisters and brothers that perished as a result of this man. But I can't rejoice in killing with"glee" as Anonymous said.

I will pray for peace and hope that we achieve it.

Dana said...

I cried - for the tragedy of 9/11, for the deaths and horrors of the following years, for the fear introduced into our lives when we travel, eat in a cafe in another land, send our children to work overseas. But not for Bin Laden. Nor did I dance in the street. But I did quietly put on my US flag broach, original to WW II and last worn for the year following 9/11. And hope this marks the end and not the beginning.

Nancy said...

I understand your feelings, Louise, and it is how I discussed this with my 10-year-old daughter this morning. It is justified. It was necessary. We aren't glad another human being had to lose their life ~ but his actions were evil and he caused the death of so many innocent people. She completely "got it." There is hope. Let there be peace on earth.

Louise Penny Author said...

What very beautiful messages. Thank you - you've all given me so much to think about. As always, I so value your presence as we navigate together.

Jan Morrison said...

what have we wrought?

I awoke this morning one way
Now I'm another.
I woke full of hope and piss and vinegar
for the day,
for the election and
my socks
and friends
and even royal weddings.

But now
we have a dead enemy.
What earthly good is that?

Now we have people thinking,
actually thinking with their brains,
that this is a good time to dance.
To wave bits of material
and shout out slogans of loyalty
and love
as if those emotions could rest
on the same lips
and that would be
a good thing.

As if love and hate
both together
gave you purchase up this
hard tight rope.

As if hate and love were
flowers in the same
good garden.

As if 'this' and 'that'
were ever anybody's

Jan Morrison, written today on my blog Living the Complicated Simple Life -

darlene said...

It's sad these horrors go on in the world, and yet it seems they always do in one way or another. I'm grateful to those who defend our lands, values and dignity. That is real courage.

Diane said...

Your post is very sensitive and truthful. Amazing how we have been faced with phenomenal world-wide news in a short space of time - the Royal Wedding, beatification of Pope John PaulII, Bin Laden's death, and as a Canadian, history making election. Wow!

Marla said...

I understand your feelings on this. On my blog I posted that I saw Osama bin Laden as a rabid dog. He had to be put down, but I could find no joy in that. I found the following quote that speaks to how I feel(I do not know the author).
"A man dying apart from a saving knowledge of God is not cause for celebration. No matter how much evil a man did, dying apart from God is always a cause for mourning."
I can't say I mourn his death, but neither can I celebrate it. ~Marla