Osama bin Laden is dead. I feel obligated to write about it but I’m having a hard time organizing my thoughts.
I’ve been admonished by friends for taking a swipe at the “Mission Accomplished” banner. It was eight years ago that it was hoisted and we were told to celebrate. But we were not done then.
And many are referencing that ill-timed speech and silly banner tonight, though I doubt that they realize this mission is still not over. One man is dead. An evil man who caused the deaths of thousands of people and changed our lives forever, to be sure. But he is still just one man. Evil resides in the hearts of more than just him.
People are gathering across the country, at the White House, at Ground Zero. I imagine these gatherings will pop up daily for the next week. People will cheer and wave flags and light candles and sing songs. But we are still not done. We. Are. Not. Done. And we are not safe, no safer than we were a week ago, a year ago, ten years ago. And the death of one man will not bring back the thousands he killed or who were killed trying to root him out.
Instinct should have told us that, when the White House announces a Presidential address at 10:30 p.m. on a Sunday night, there’s something big coming. And then it broke on Twitter: bin Laden was dead and U.S. forces were in possession of his body. Twitter blew up. Facebook followed closely. The Big Three networks, as well as CNN, went into scramble mode.
I felt a little sick. And a little joy. And a little apprehension. And a little anger. And I remembered where I was nearly ten years ago when the Twin Towers fell and the Pentagon was on fire. I remembered the shock and the fear of that day, that week, the year that followed.
Over the course of the evening, I’ve accumulated a number of quotes from a variety of people. Admittedly, most are stolen from Twitter and Facebook feeds, but they’ve touched me nonetheless.
Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles.”Proverbs 24:17
I will not cheer for death, but instead I will mourn the death grip violence has on our world and put my hope in the Prince of Peace. Nate Paquette
I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure. Mark Twain
There is some good in the worst of us & some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies. MLK, Jr.
I am not so wise to think, that I can point my finger at someone and say, that without a doubt, the world is a better place without them. William York
bin Ladin is dead. We as a nation can celebrate; and we as people of faith can mourn that we find it necessary to kill one another. Matthew Bolz-Weber
I fear what we face in the coming days. I fear not the retaliation of our enemies. Instead, I fear our disappointment upon realizing that we are not done. Our soldiers are not immediately coming home. This was one man. We are not done.
There were two men who played significant parts in my life that week of September 11, 2001. One called me the morning of the attacks, but I was too stunned to answer the phone. His message was simple, calling to check on me, to make sure I was okay though we were both thousands of miles from the tragedies and violence of the day. I worked night audit at the hotel that night and, just after midnight, he arrived and stayed in the lobby with me until daybreak. He read his paper and I read my book and watched the news on the internet. Very few words passed between us.
His presence was a comfort to me then. It settled me and quieted me and I’ve never forgotten. Every year, on the anniversary of 9/11, I make sure to thank him again.
The second reached out to me with a tenderness I hadn’t known he possessed. He simply put his arms around me and said softly into my ear, “Be safe.” I doubt he remembers it now or recognizes himself when I write this about him but that gesture was (and still is) greatly appreciated.
These are now the words I say to you. Be safe.