Late last night after putting the final touches on this morning’s post, the news came through that Osama bin Laden had been killed, effectively making my commentary about how over scheduled families find themselves in May a tad irrelevant. So here I sit this morning, rewriting. The words are flying off my keyboard though, as the cauldron of my thoughts and emotions bubble over.
My initial reaction to the news wasn’t one of joy, but of surprise that we finally found him on some random Sunday. But as the news sunk in, I started to ask myself if it was okay to feel joy? It felt twisted. Luckily the news media effectively gave us permission to celebrate, and my thoughts became more and more deranged as I hoped whoever killed bin Laden tortured him first, just a little. Maybe we should have taken him alive, strapped him to a plane and … well you know the rest. I am more twisted than I thought.
I marveled at the footage of bin Laden which was a constant companion to the every talking head on every channel. The guy still looks like a friendly old man, maybe a professor or uncle, who tells really long boring stories. He never looked sinister to me. He and Bernie Madoff could easily be playing chess in a park somewhere in Brooklyn and go completely unnoticed. Seems like that version of events isn’t far from the truth for either of them.
Is this really going to change anything? Sure we killed the most evil villain in the world since Adolph Hitler but I guarantee you I still won’t be able to carry the 5 oz bottle of my new Burberry fragrance on a flight anytime soon. While part of me fantasizes about the world going back to the way it was before 9-11, the other part is sure al Qaeda is going exact revenge. What kind of organization doesn’t have a succession plan? Any one of those guys doing the monkey bars in the dessert could throw on a turban and throw up a YouTube video and boom, we are back where we started.
I watched as the crowd gathered in front of the White House and later in NYC and wanted to jump on the Acela to them in unity. Soon I realized that the White House revelers were comprised almost entirely of students from G.W. and I imagined the NYC folks were the same people who hang out in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. Suddenly I lost my motivation. Any contemporaries of mine who were still awake at that hour were watching safely in their homes. I am old.
Still, I wanted to call people late last night. Lucky for my friends and family, better sense prevailed and I texted and emailed folks to see who was still up. Very few were. Or they were ignoring me. And after assessing the impact and the pending coverage for the next year week, I determined that this was not “wake people up news”. It was big but not big enough that people wouldn’t be pissed off to be risen from a sound sleep at midnight.
I wonder how my boys will react this morning. We keep the talk of terrorism at as low a level as possible in this house. Chase will undoubtedly want to know who got the $25 million dollar reward. (I kinda would like to know that, too) Noah will somehow turn the conversation into a theoretical discussion involving Black Ops (the game, not the actual unit).
The one image of 9/11 that sticks in my mind is watching the Twin Towers burn on the television as 3 year old Noah was at pre-school and Chase, not yet 2, played on the floor in the den. At that time, the newscasters said that our world was going to change forever, a concept I believed but couldn’t even begin to grasp. They said the same thing last night and again I wait with Americans everywhere to understand what it means with only the highest hopes that world will be a better and safer place. And maybe gas prices will come down. Just a little.