I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, "Mother, what was war?"
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I slept uneasily the night I learned Bin Laden was killed.
The next morning, on the way to work, and throughout the day, NPR was in “breaking news” mode: all the regular programming had been usurped by this news of Osama’s death. I heard our President’s statement. I heard of Americans cheering and honking horns, saw photographs of celebrations in the streets. Juxtaposed with images of the towers falling and the sounds of people screaming, crying, and dying.
Throughout the day on Twitter and news sites I read words of congratulations, celebration, even joy. I listened to President Obama use words and phrases to describe the mission like, “justice has been done” and “satisfaction” and “true to our values” and “achievement” and “greatness of our country”.
Those very positive words and sentiments and images – from our President, my fellow Americans and fellow humans, from people I follow on Twitter and Facebook – used in the depiction of a hunt and kill operation of one man we believe was in charge of a terrible terrorist act which directly caused the death of thousands of people on September 11th 2001, leading to more thousands of deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq over the last nearly ten years, and a generally heightened sense of fear and hatred and unease worldwide of people “different than us” and of Americans in general by the rest of the world – such overt congratulations and joviality in a discussion of war, death, tragedy… while I can understand a sense of relief and maybe even hope, that Bin Laden’s death might somehow signal an end to an era; perhaps usher in a new era of peace… all the celebrations and congratulations seemed the very antithesis of what I was feeling. So, I tweeted:
Here was our media presenting our nation as cheering death; yet death and war and killing continues. The ending of life of one tyrant doesn’t signal the end of terrorism. What kind of message are we sending the world when others see photographs of celebrations on what is essentially the grave site of thousands of people of all races, religions, nationalities? We laud the death of Bin Laden as “justice”, but does it really justify dancing in the streets? Do the parents and spouses and children of those lost on 9-11 and in the wars since feel justice has been done? Their loved ones are still not with them. I fear these images the media is broadcasting serves only to add fuel to an already viciously burning fire of hate and anger in our world.
It all makes me feel so very uneasy.
Over the last few days I’ve been repeatedly transported back to the day that the planes crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. Our world has changed so dramatically in the last ten years. Every year as 9-11 approaches, I think about how to discuss it with our children. I can’t help but wonder how an innocent child would process these recent images of partying on the site of the worst terrorist attack on the US in celebration of the death of the apparent mastermind of said attack. It boggles my mind how to explain the dichotomy of feelings between craving peace and understanding for all people, of experiencing relief or hope that the death of Bin Laden might signal some sort of end to war and terrorism expressed in celebration, and of the dark realization that there still is so much anger, hatred, fear, and violence alive in our world. I can’t hardly explain it myself.
I realize I can't choose or change the way others react to situations. But I can and will choose for myself to practice and strive for peace in my home and in my everyday life; and hope that my children will learn peace is a way of life, and a goal worth reaching for. I will choose to carry the light and energy of hope with me, so that my children will take it with them through their lives, touching others with the light of peace. Because I believe it is only from a place of peace and understanding and empathy that the world will heal.
I came across this eloquently written and touching blog post; a mother's reaction to Bin Laden's death & the subsequent celebration: Why I'm Not Celebrating Osama bin Laden's Death by Josette at Haushki.com and wanted to share it with you, as it moved me.