Monday, May 2, 2011

It ain't over until ... well, it's never really over.

I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
- Martin Luther King Jr.

Americans are big on revenge. It's part of the reason why movies like "Die Hard" and those Charles Bronson "Death Wish" films were big hits. We like punching back.

While most of us were minding our own business late on Sunday night, we got the announcement that the United States had punched back. Albeit well after the wounds had a chance to start closing, but we punched back nonetheless. That resulted in a jingoistic outpouring of emotions and chanting unseen since the last time the Arabs did something big.

Town squares seem to look the same whether they are in front of the White House or in front of a mosque in Iraq. Extremism always looks the same: People with raised fists holding a flag chanting a slogan.

U S A ...U S A ... U S A.

When it's us chanting it looks good to us. When it's them, it's those crazy Arabs. Perspective is a funny thing. And yes, I realize that thinking and writing these things makes me the worst person in the community. We're supposed to blindly support the effort with liberty and justice for all, except that sometimes there is more to the effort than meets the eye and the liberty and justice are for just us.

Those of you who weren't able to congregate at the White House or the site of the former Twin Towers did your jingoistic chanting either to yourself or to friends you met later. "We got bin Laden," you'd say. Well, we got him and a half. Killed him is more like it, although who am I to quibble with semantics?

When we look past the jingoism, what we are left with is yet another world leader (yes) taken down by force. When it's one of our leaders we react accordingly - with sadness and thoughts of revenge. When it's one of those so-called crazy bastards who make our lives difficult we figure that they got what they deserve.

We don't like to have our lives altered. We like our cell phones, beer parties, weekends, various freedoms and the ability to do as we please without having to go through security or present our identification. We're Americans. If our lives aren't easy, somebody is going to pay.

So we rejoice in the death of an international icon. As with many things, perspective is the key. When one of our political leaders is murdered we vow to "move on" and continue with our mission - or words to that effect. Now that Osama bin Laden has been murdered, we seem to think that it puts an end (or at least brings to a pause) terrorist activities. We fail to see in others what we want to see in ourselves, which is the resolve to maintain our way of life in spite of the obstacles presented.

I'll sit here and wait for the other political shoe to drop, and in the meantime, I will still have to take my shoes off when I go through airport security. Keep chanting, if it makes you feel better, but realize that little has changed except that we got one of them.


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