Please Forgive Me For Not Taking To the Streets

A still of 2004 Osama bin Laden videoImage via WikipediaCrowds are gathered in DC and New York tonight, chanting "USA! USA!" upon the death of Osama bin Laden.  It was 2003 when President Bush stood before a big "Mission Accomplished" banner and proclaimed a victory.  However, it seems that tonight the Special Forces really accomplished the mission that started on 9/11 --- get the guy who masterminded the whole thing.

We did it.  We satisfied the "dead" portion of "dead or alive."  And I don't doubt that this will bring some peace of mind to those who lost loved ones on that fateful day 10 years ago...or at least closure for them.

But I don't feel like taking to the streets tonight--chanting and celebrating and waving a flag. Yes we got our man.  But we've spent trillions of dollars on the wars that came after 9/11.  We have thousands of Americans dead from those wars and thousands more injured or disabled.  We have many more Iraqis and Afghans dead.  And we have two countries in shambles with very little opportunity to get out them at this point.  Is this form of "justice" worth it?  Was it worth it to have so many more lives lost?  Was it worth it with the toll this has placed on the men and women of the armed forces and their families?  Was the perceived or real safety Bin Laden's death will bring us worth the cost?  What closure will our country get from this night?

I guess I have trouble with the notion of punitive justice.  Believe me, I understand a desire to "get even" and "get back."  I'm just not sure it really makes anything right.  It doesn't bring back the dead that were lost in the attacks on US soil and I question what kind of wholeness or restoration "an eye for and eye" justice can give us.

That said, I don't feel real bad that Bin Laden's gone.  Perhaps I should.  This is a man that has served as a backdrop for much of my three older kids' lives.  He's been our bogeyman as a nation.  And now he's gone.

But what I do feel bad about is that the cost in human lives and US dollars to "get him" was so great. 

A thank you is due to the men and women in the Armed Forces.  Whether we view the wars as justified or not, these are folks who risk their lives for the ideal of protecting the rest of us.  I can't even begin to understand how they are able to do what they do for us.

Just forgive me for not going out and chanting "USA! USA!  USA!" tonight.

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