Yesterday started out like most Sundays do at our house. The day kicked off with some family snuggle time before I made French toast for breakfast. Your father kept you busy while I got some homework done. There was grocery shopping, lots of playing, a home cooked (by Daddy!) dinner, a nice long walk around the neighborhood, and a relatively uneventful bedtime.
After getting you into bed, your father and I looked for something worthwhile to watch on television, settling for some comedy on Netflix when that search turned futile. When the program was over, and we were about to turn off the TV and get ready for bed ourselves, your father noticed the news headline scrolling across the bottom of the screen: Osama bin Laden Dead. We looked at each other in disbelief, and opted to stay up to hear the President's remarks.
Neither of us had a very strong reaction. After the decade our country has spent searching for this man, who perpetrated unthinkable acts of violence, after the deaths of nearly 100,000 others in the process, after ten years of war and devastation, the news of bin Laden's death seemed anti-climatic. It seemed like small potatoes. It seemed strange to see images of our fellow Americans dancing and celebrating in the streets, to see our social networks abuzz with joy over the death of this man, praising the murder of a murderer who praised murders himself.
Osama bin Laden absolutely needed to be brought to justice. There is no excuse for the violence and hatred that he orchestrated. Still, I find it naive to proclaim that his death will somehow magically end terrorism, or this mess of a war. I find it offensive to think that his death justifies all the deaths leading up to it. I find it hypocritical to rejoice over the violent death of someone who was disdained for celebrating violence and death himself.
Above all, I'm sad. I'm sad to have a fresh reminder of the prevalence of violence and hate in the world. I'm sad that you were born into a world of war, hatred, and death. I'm sad to think about how the history books you'll one day read will portray these events. I'm sad to know that the ending of this life is not an end to terrorism or war, that it will merely further perpetuate the cycle of violence, and that innocent lives will continue to be jeopardized. I'm sad to realize that my generation will not be the one to truly embrace and promote peace, as I'd hoped it would. I'm hopeful that your generation will come closer to achieving that end.
Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.
--Martin Luther King Jr.