I was excited when my sister called me and said Osama bin Laden was killed. He was really the only tangible enemy the United State had left in the war on “terrorism.” I remember being in middle school and the Twin Towers fell. Everyone said it would be a historic moment that I would remember for the rest of my life. And since then, “where we you on 9/11″ has always been an interesting conversation topic when meeting new people.
After the announcement of bin Laden’s death, Facebook and Twitter feeds reflected this 9/11 unity. There was a sense of excitement that I haven’t seen since 9/11 or Barack Obama’s election — excitement that we have a shared sense of identity, pride of being Americans.
But after reading more posts, and seeing the “dead” and “killed” headlines, the unity suddenly became frightening. It was no longer something constructive, something filled with hope.
Rather, we had come together in death.
The images on TV and the internet look similar to those shown in American after 9/11 of people on the other side of the world rejoicing because of the attacks on the United States — parades in Afganistan, rounds of gunfire shot off in celebration in the streets.
While I haven’t heard of any guns being shot off in the streets, the sentiments are the same. Take the New York Daily News cover — “the best front page of the day.”
After 9/11 and bin Laden’s death, both sides came together joyously — but it is joy because of death. We are cheering because a man was shot and killed in the head. “We got him” Obama was said to have remarked when the operation was completed. But what do we really have now? A better understanding of our neighbors?
Joy is happiness and should be of the living. How can we be happy because of death? It’s a dangerous game. What can bring us into the streets together again? What will provoke us again to chant “U-S-A, U-S-A”?
Obama said the death of bin Laden was justice for all those who have died. What will his death do? Not bring back the lost lives. Not make the world a safer place. Not rid the world of terrorism. Not end the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.
If anything, the bin Laden killing perpetuates the idea that death can solve problems and make us a more united people. But this unity is temporary.
Looking at more comments on social media last night, I saw a quotation from the Bible a friend posted on Facebook — Ezekiel 18:32 (an Old Testament book, read by Jews, Christians and Muslims):
For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord GOD. “Therefore turn and live!”
Human life is sacred — no matter whose it is. Cultures that can disregard it and show no forgiveness, even to our greatest enemies, are misguided. We become what we hate. We come down to their level. We have a hard time to turn and to live, for we rejoice in death.