Recently, I asked a blogger why she kept on writing every day online. She said that she wrote as a personal record for her children. I like that idea. Why have I never thought about that, if not for my children, at least as a record of my own life and thoughts? My blog allows me to go back and see my frame of mind during a certain day and year.
Today, I feel like writing about the death of Osama bin Laden, not because I feel any great urge to compete with the other million voices on the same subject. I know by next week, we will have moved on to a new subject, so I wanted to engrave my thoughts on this spot, like a virtual Plymouth Rock. As a record of a time and place.
I was on Twitter at 10PM on Sunday night when I saw a friend mention that Obama was going to speak at 10:30PM. I turned on CNN and Wolf Blitzer was hyperventilating with double-speak and speculation about not speculating what the speech was going to be about.
I tweeted something about this mysterious speech and said it seemed “scary.” Initial comments from my friends also used words like “frightened” and “worried.”
Soon the rumor was spreading on Twitter that Osama bin Laden was killed. The news media played by the old media rules, and didn’t broadcast the information. You could see the frustration on their faces as Obama delayed his speech. Everyone knew the news, and CNN was trying to slip in the information through smoke signals and wild gestures.
The environment on Twitter became silly, with jokes about the networks. There was a sense of absurdity to the media disconnect. Instead of the news media behaving like authority figures — a Walter Cronkite or Tom Brokaw, for instance — they were like game show hosts, waiting for the big reveal behind curtain number two, faking it for the audience.
The mood certainly changed once Obama spoke eloquently to the nation. Suddenly, we realized that this was a significant moment, a closure to the years of national pain that America has felt since September 11th.
The mood online quickly splintered as crowds appeared at the White House chanting “USA! USA!” Was this a spontaneous expression of patriotism or a disgraceful display of crassness? Should we be joyous or somber?
On Facebook, my status today read: “Adding my 2 cents, like everyone else. It was a necessity that we killed Bin Laden, both politically and symbolically, and it is good that we did. But it only reminds me of the evil and the lack of concern for humanity that exists in the hearts of so many, particularly those who pervert religion and nationhood for selfishness, that I feel more sad than anything else.”
I received a direct message from someone hoping to shake me out of my lethargy.
“Imagine this is Adolph Hitler. Wouldn’t you be dancing on his grave?”
I thought about that question, and quite honestly, “No.”
I don’t see the world like a Marvel comic book. The evil, at least for me, is not only Hitler the man, but the countless others who followed his horrific beliefs and orders — the soldiers, the citizens, and the sympathizers who helped make the Nazi machine so effective.
Bin Ladin may be dead, but what he represented appealed to many, including those who willingly killed themselves on September 11th in the name of religion. Some around the world still see him as a person of holiness.
Today’s statement from Hamas:
“We condemn the assassination and the killing of an Arab holy warrior. We ask God to offer him mercy with the true believers and the martyrs.”
That makes me sad. A real victory will come when all ideologies of hate are seen as evil.