In getting the news about Osama bin Laden’s death last night, I wasn’t sure what to feel. Do I rejoice? Do I dance around the room? Do I be happy at the death of evil — at least in that corner of the world? It feels strange rejoicing at death. I’m not the only one apparently struggling with this. Facebook friends were quoting scripture from proverbs about not gloating — (Proverbs 24:17 Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice). My wife informed the kids by saying, “As much as it’s not a good thing to be happy someone’s dead…”. A client said that she didn’t rejoice because she’s sure there will be repercussions. If this happened to a client’s parent, I might give voice to their feelings by saying “it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy”. That didn’t feel right.
I think it’s fair to feel a sense of relief, so I allowed myself that much as I weighed my options as a Christian. Then I saw the answer! My friend Bill McCarthy wrote “I’m not missing Bin Laden already…” . THAT is the correct answer. As Pete Townsend wrote in Tommy, “Let’s forsake him, gonna rape him, let’s forget him better still”. That pretty much covered all the emotions: Leave him!, no, hate him!, no let’s just forget him. It’s like a little mini-course in the complex-grieving process. As a human being, we feel bad for the loss — even if many of us thought of bin Laden as not particularly-human-at-all. Then we move on to anger and violence. Then, when we’re all worn out from all that anger, we let go — either forgiving or forgetting — and move on.
On 9/11, nearly ten years ago, I didn’t know who he was. Shortly thereafter, I figured it out, hated him and wondered how he could do this. As a therapist, I still wonder how a human being could become that way, (but like reading Patricia Cornwell novels gets disgusting, I don’t really want to go there). Since then, I became sick of fighting wars over him, having seen enough people die of a stupid war. Then, while the rest of the media world, (including Dennis Miller, who I used to really like) began painting Islam as a horrible disease full of terrorist monsters, people around me — Hartford Seminary, students in my class, Quinnipiac University nearby — were beginning to make people of Islam seem like actual human beings. Not Al Qaeda, don’t get me wrong –those people are whacked — the Muslims in Central Connecticut I know are actually decent people. In much the same way that I don’t want people to think all Christians protests funerals or burn the Koran, the normal Muslims don’t want people thinking that all followers of Allah are out blowing up airplanes for fun.
So, five years into the “decade of terror”, I already stopped caring if we ever caught Osama bin Laden. He wasn’t worth my time. Donald Rumsfeld seemed just plain evil this morning on the Today show as he talked about killing and how he wanted to do this before the regular world knew who bin Laden was. I’m sure he knew Bin Laden better than I did, and I probably should be worried, but — as a symbol of evil, terror, and all that’s bad in the world about religion– bin Laden had lost his edge for me. Rumsfeld was still stuck hating and his violence became him. No wonder he has heart problems (or is that Cheney? — anyway…) Maybe it’s just because our military and government did such a good job protecting us, I no longer considered Al Qaeda a real threat. I had forgotten Bin Laden was being chased. There were enough terrorists running around the planet, I didn’t care anymore about “the Original”. In short, I didn’t miss Bin Laden because I forgot about him.
So, today, to use the words of the “honorable William McCarthy, esq.”, I’m not missing Bin Laden already.