Life and death

Osama bin Laden killed

President Obama and members of the security team receive an update on the mission against Osama Bin Laden.

President Obama and members of the security team receive an update on the mission against Osama Bin Laden.

Music: None

Sermon: None

Fellowship: None

I attended Earth Day with the intention of looking for the soulful aspects of the celebration of the Earth, as much because it was a beautiful day that made me feel like seeing friends. I saw the gong bathers and peeked over somebody’s shoulder at the Eckankar booth, but, honestly, I wasn’t picking up a spiritual vibe. The light, the heat, the friendly faces, too much fun to be introspective—but you know, I took my notes.

I woke up at 3:19 a.m. to read the news about the death of Osama bin Laden. I’d seen an AP NewsAlert before I slept, so I wasn’t surprised. In fact, I’d had enough time to start guessing as to how the media and the American public would handle the news. I knew before I closed my eyes that the first articles would be chest-pounding stories about how “justice” was served; about how the United States was under new revenge threats; about how this would improve Barack Obama’s chances at reelection; about how it would be claimed a hoax; about how this brought “closure” to America and the families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

But you know what? I don’t think justice was served at all. I’m glad the guy is dead. Psychopaths have no right to run free in this world terrorizing innocents. But I’m conflicted. I don’t think the death of one man can stand as a symbol of a triumph over evil that resulted in the deaths of untold thousands—not just in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but all the suicide bombings and murders that came before and after.

How can one evil man, in any real way, be equated to thousands of regular—mixtures of good and bad—people? “Justice” to me is a leveling of a cosmic balance. Time is a continuum. There’s no reapportionment of the seconds cut off in individuals’ lives. The moments that were lost, the families who lost parents and children, the softball games that would never be held, the incomplete Thanksgivings, the soldiers lost in reactionary wars—justice will never be served. Real justice is beyond human authority.

All it really proves to me is how cheap our culture has come to view human lives—when one criminal’s death is settlement for the murder of thousands of innocents. And that’s a real soul fillet.

Allow me to put aside issues of the death penalty. This was war, to which most Americans give a pass on the sixth commandment: Thou shalt not kill. The guy probably deserved to die—and if I could have, I’d have killed him myself and not reaped any political gain—but the death penalty is a topic for another column.

And as predicted, barely an hour had passed after Obama’s announcement that a blog announced, “This makes Obama a shoo-in for ’12, right?”

Then there’s the subject of “closure.” I’ve lost family and friends to death. Nothing brings closure, and the idea that the righteous killing of a rabid dog—or a funeral, or a new marriage, or a passage of time—is supposed to make anyone get over their loss or move on is a complete disregard for how people really are. For many, this death will not bring closure, but will rip off the scab again, reawaken fears in the night, and resuscitate the feeling of longing for the lost loved one and the America this guy stole.

I don’t know. I hesitate to post this column, knowing that I’m going to get a bunch of shit for expressing an “unpatriotic” view in this time of American celebration. But somebody’s got to speak up for the people who only feel a renewed sense of loss. The guy lived by the sword, and he deserved what he got. But that is not justice. And unless the universe is creating new matter and energy, exactly nothing has changed with Osama bin Laden’s death.