I believe in moral absolutes. One death does not justify another. Ten deaths does not justify another. Three-thousand deaths does not justify one. As a Christian and a Catholic, I do not believe in taking a life for the sake of justice. There is no eye for an eye in my book.
So, you can imagine my dilemma when I found my self weeping tears of joy last night at the news that not only was Osama bin Laden dead, but that a brave American made him that way. And I am not ashamed about it. Perhaps one day I will feel guilt for the happiness I felt. Perhaps one day I will be moved enough to confess what must be a sin. Perhaps, one day, I will feel shame for rejoicing. But, I don’t think so, because it isn’t that simple.
I’ve had 24 hours to reflect on it now and I’ve had plenty of time to absorb the various inputs from the media. I’ve talked to my wife about his death. I’ve talked to my mom. I’ve talked to friends. I’ve carefully read long strings of post on Facebook from friends and strangers alike (sometime, I feel that Facebook give one of the most honest reflections of who people are and what they are feeling).
And I have played with my sons. I’ve talked to them about school and I’ve watched a little TV with them. We had a meal together and we have laughed. I have tucked them into their beds and surrounded them with the blankets and stuffed animals and their Angry Birds. And, I came to the realization that they are safer today than they were last week.
I like to think that I am honest in my writing and in this blog, I do my best to not “make up” or exaggerate dramatic situations for drama’s sake. So, I honestly believe, that after reflecting on my sons, my family and my friends, the tears of joy I wept last night were not out of rejoicing for an act of vengeance or even an act of justice. They were tears of joy for the fact that the very face of evil that we have know for nearly a decade, has been removed from this world and, because of that, the things that are the most important to me in this life are that much more safe today, than they were yesterday.
Oh, I know that in some ways, we may be in more danger and I know that things won’t go back to the way they were on September 10, 2001. As one friend of mine put it today, you cut off one head and two more grow back. However, in spite of knowing that, I feel safer today. I feel like 10 years of tension has finally been let go.
There was something more in my tears last night than joy. My initial reaction to the news was a sort of breathlessness and I could almost feel myself convulse. It was a sense of relief that my body was finally giving in to. It was a sense of relief that I had no idea that I needed for the bulk of the last ten years. And, I became absolutely giddy about it.
Fear is a horribly powerful entity and sometimes, you don’t know you are living in it’s darkness until it is gone.
My sons, lately, partly as a result of playing Angry Birds (have I mentioned that they are obsessed with it) and partly because of them make more observations about the world around them, have asked a lot of questions about “bad guys”. They talk about how soldiers and policemen get them and, they have even asked if bad guys are real. Well, this morning, as I was listening to the coverage on the radio in the car, Benjamin asked me what they were talking about.
It felt good to tell them, “Some brave American soldiers got a very bad guy, last night.”
“How bad?” they asked.
“The very worst,” I told them. And they smiled.