I woke up this morning with some thoughts on my mind and a sincere need to put them down on paper. This process has always allowed me to find an inner peace by clarification, but today these thoughts are still troubling me. I woke up with Osama Bin Laden on my mind, along with Hitler, Pol Pot and Mussolini, as well as many other despots that history has seen.
When I first heard that Osama was dead, I have to admit, I (like everyone I know) cheered and thanked everyone from our president to our troops, and yes even God. Then, after a time, I began to feel "unsettled". I have never been prone to violence (except, like most people, when really, really angry, and then my violence is to break down and really cry and scream. note: I do not do this in view of anyone or where anyone can hear me. Generally it is in my car as I am driving down the road or in my own home where I can have a total melt down). I am not a vigilante and my take on the death penalty is, it should be abolished, unless the family of those killed wish to exact revenge by pushing the button. Then I just feel sorrow, because causing a death (I believe) does take a piece of our soul. Still Osama was a very evil man who was responsible for a lot of people's deaths...right? Hitler was and Pol Pot and many others...right? and by killing him we have righted a wrong...right?
Then I consider the guy or guys that pulled the trigger/triggers. Hmmm...heroes! yes but at what cost? I like going through life thinking I have never killed a person. I like feeling that moral superiority. But what about them? At best it is moral ambiguity. Taking a life is still taking a life. Killing someone is still something we are raised to understand is wrong and very few people can go through life feeling so detached from this understanding, that they are comfortable with their actions. In fact, a huge number of our soldiers suffer from PTSD as a result of the inability to absorb this moral ambiguity. In war, everyone who is not your brother is evil... they are all a possible threat... but consider... our soldiers today are going over and helping the Afaganis and the Iraquis. They are getting to know these people by helping them rebuild their country's infrastructure and then they are going into hot spots and killing people... evil?
It occurs to me that sometimes the most evil is seen from circumstances. The awful truth that one minute you can feel comfort and understanding by helping people and the other minute you have to arm yourself to kill people because they are a threat. This to me is truly evil. Dirty bombs and those that would use them... evil. Yet what madness drove them to feel the need to use those bombs? What madness drove us to allow them to be designed?
My husband says it is religious ideas that have created this hatred.. I think perhaps there is a kernel of truth to that. We all become fanatics about religious thoughts and ideas. After all it is one of two things we never discuss at the dinner table or with strangers. Sometimes it is hard even with friends. I think perhaps it is a little bit deeper than that. Fanaticism (I believe) comes from a feeling that you and everyone you know have been wronged. It comes from a feeling of isolation and hurt and constantly being told who is responsible and how if they were eliminated your life would be better. Mostly it comes from constant pain. Hmm...
So after a day I found a quote on Facebook. You know the quote that went viral? I was so happy to have found it because it expressed how I truly felt. The quote went like this: "I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." - Martin Luther King, Jr. Wow, this expressed my feelings so well!
Then the debate, Martin Luther King, Jr did not say that! Hmmm... You know, I dont really care who said it. If he didnt then I am sure he would have, or Ghandi or someone else.. Arent we losing the point? It is a great quote! It is appropo and it is very succinct! however, It is a very difficult idea to live up to.. so we divert our attention from what it says to who said it. It is much easier than living that ideal.
I am still grateful to those of our soldiers who are on the front line and who are asked to shoot. I am still (inspite of my questions and apprehension) glad that we will not have to deal with Osama. However I am wondering if we didnt just cut off one head of a hydra? I am still grateful that this man who created the plans to kill all those innocent people in the USA and who is responsible for the deaths of so many of his own people is dead. However, I dont feel safer.. I feel enough removed from all this violence that I can play my moral superiority card and be happy. After all it is spring and the garden needs weeding and the house needs painted.
Moral Ambiguity on Whidbey Island.