A proper response
by Hank Martin
Providence occasioned me to be in Washington, D.C., the night of Osama Bin Laden’s demise. It was admittedly; an almost surreal experience, as the streets were typically quiet for a Sunday night, then a trickle of people turned quickly into a flood, as the streets almost organically became energized with the city wide chants of “USA, USA, USA!!!” One of the few times I was disadvantaged, temporarily in the technological dark, lacking phone, radio and internet, I was unsure of what was happening. When I learned of the reason for all of the exuberance, I must honestly say, I was not moved to such a rambunctious and misplaced emotional outburst. While I can understand the emotion, I found the outbursts distasteful and misplaced
Do I consider OBL to be a monstrous evil, whose deeds warranted his demise? Most certainly. Do I agree with the logic that OBL would have created a legal precedent and a nightmare, had he been taken alive to stand trial? Given today’s twisted legal system and attorneys desiring more to make history, than to do what is right, absolutely. However, that having been said, I still take issue with the overall response of the American public. I was not moved towards the fist pumping, beer bottle toting, athletic style chanting of the moment; I was however filled with a sober sense of appreciation. An appreciation to God, who allowed the circumstance to OBL’s capture. An appreciation of the situation, understanding that though we have rightfully found the man responsible for the deaths of thousands, and pronounced a deservedly quick and just sentence; we also have taken a whole new step in this contest with terror, and I pray that we have the fortitude and the resolve to go the distance. I was simultaneously hit with the somber realization that while yes, justice has been served, and was a decade in coming, and while there was a degree of relief in knowing that this monster was no longer able to roam the earth, I am also acutely aware that our citizens are tragically in possession of a short attention span. “WE THE PEOPLE” need to remember what happens when you step on a hot coal to extinguish it. You may put out the large coal, but twenty embers will spray out from beneath your heel. OBL may be gone, but he has had ten years to establish, organize and train multiple franchises of his evil. Will we maintain the alert vanguard required to go the distance? Or will we repeat our pattern of using OBL’s death, as an excuse to cut back now on our military?
Personally, I was most unimpressed in viewing the entire fist pumping and raised beer bottles toasting this news. I was forced to ask myself a piercing question, one whose answer is troubling, that being, what is the difference in how “WE THE PEOPLE” are acting, and how the citizens of Somalia were celebrating in the streets, as the nude bodies of the downed Blackhawk helicopter personnel were dragged throughout the city? How about the manner in which beheadings are celebrated on the internet, etc? As Americans, are we not supposed to be better than this? Have we been successful at having transformed the unfortunate activity of war into some sort of a sport? If so, then we must confront the following question, are we at the core of our being, both personally and as a nation, any different than the foes we are at odds against. One may attempt to make the comparison that our collective jubilation was no different than the emotions displayed at the end of WWII. That comparison would be flawed. This was not the celebration as it was in WWII. That conflict touched every single person. There was universal suffering and sacrifice, on a planetary scale, over seas and for the families at home. In some fashion, that conflict negatively touched the lives of every person. That celebration was for the end of a war, not the death of a man, and therein lies the biggest difference. By comparison, this conflict is almost a side show, not in the bravery and willingness to sacrifice by our service men, but in the manner it displays itself in the everyday life of the average American citizen. Seldom thought of until, through six degrees of separation, or a note on Face Book, one is touched by the death of a soldier, or as a news bit, scrolling across the screen at the local department store or mall, where the people go to practice their religion of materialism.
How we should respond as a nation, is with a humble spirit, giving thanks to God for allowing the capture and eradication of an evil monster asking for continued blessings and protection of our soldiers and our nation, as we enter into a new phase of history for our country. Not as our enemy rejoices in our demise, come on America, “WE THE PEOPLE” can be, and must be, better than this.
Great post, Hank. Fortunately, quite a few people have spoken up and agreed that bin Laden’s death is a time for remembrance and thankfulness and maybe even some joy, but not “rah-rah, USA” cheering.
As of the time I originally scribed this, the attitude of which you cite, had not manifested itself as widely, as it has now apparently become, which was the reason for my concern.