Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A time to reflect…not celebrate

Last Sunday (May 1st), U.S. forces found and killed Osama bin Laden in a mansion in Pakistan. Bin Laden was the head of Al-Qaeda, who carried out the terrorist attack on America on September 11, 2001. From then until the hour of his death, bin Laden was the face of terrorism for many Americans, a shadowy and frustrating enemy lurking in the darkness of a world not our own.

When word came of the dispatching of bin Laden, New York’s Times Square filled with cheering people. New York, of course, was particularly targeted on 9/11 via the World Trade Center Twin Towers.

Headlines from two of New York's less tasteful papers.

It’s okay to feel relief that bin Laden has been found and will never cause harm to anyone ever again. It’s okay to feel relief, even though his death doesn’t solve the terrorism quandary once and for all. However, cheering feels wrong to me.

The shooting of bin Laden is the inevitable end to a tragically wasted life. With the resources he was born with, bin Laden could have been a force for good, showing people the best side of Islam instead of dragging it into a pit of revenge and violence. He chose a life of violence, and in the end he reaped what he had sown.

It’s hard to compare this to the end of World War II. Back then, we knew we had ended a particular villainy, and it meant the return of so many more troops and the renewing of a prosperous way of life that the war interrupted. Here, we do not know when our troops will come home (though they probably should with no clear mission now), and national prosperity remains uncertain. The “war” on terrorism will continue, though it may never be definitively won.

One villain gone, a few more to go.

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