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What’s Next?

The New York Times

It’s a pretty surreal feeling this evening. I came home from a walk with my son and turned on the TV and heard the amazing news– Osama Bin laden is dead! As I watched the news I could see an outcry of patriotism and elation in the streets all over the U.S. I remember a similar feeling of patriotism as many others did that fateful day on September 11th, 2001. I remember driving around in my car and making eye contact with total strangers and yet shared a feeling of connectedness and shock. There is that same sort of feeling tonight. But this time its more of a sense of relief and a sense that some justice in this world is possible. But it is this feeling of justice that I find to be most curious. Americans differ in their opinions in their attitude toward the wars that have ensued since the announcement that we were at war with Iraq in search of weapons of mass destruction– words that now live in infamy. But there was initially a call to arms as it were; a “sleeping giant” awoken once again. Everything happened so fast and there was a bipartisan unity for immediate retaliation. Unfortunately for Saddam Hussein, it was really bad news whether he was responsible or not.

I find this sense of American justice to be rather peculiar. But let me first say that I am proud to live in a country where there are those who are willing to fight for the freedoms of others; whether those people want them to or not. I think tonight you will be hard-pressed to find an American who is not glad at the news of the death of someone who very purposely and precisely carried out a plan to kill many innocent American lives. But as I said before, this feeling of justice is a peculiar one. This is a country that is divided on the issue of capital punishment. We stand to protect the rights of those who disagree with us. We do not like the idea of being at war (I believe that to be a good). I remember a similar celebration in the Arab world when the news came that New York had been attacked by two planes. I remember seeing people dancing in the streets because America the great harlot had been wounded. Now of course as an American, I have a very strong bias toward seeing my country succeed in all its endeavors, including just military campaigns. I can’t help but feel glad that an evil man has been taken from power and will stand before a Holy Judge. And I believe that most Americans in some sense would agree with such a feeling. But for how long?

How long will this patriotism last? Over the last 10 years of seemingly unending war we have grown weary of seeking justice and have felt tremendous pressure from the rest of the world to stay out of the affairs of other sovereign nations. And no doubt pressure from within our borders. Justice has become an archaic and primitive ideology of which we have no need for anymore. Ideas of justice and righteousness have been replaced with catch words like Karma and positive thinking. Our culture has all but divorced itself from just causes. That is why such rhetoric used by former President George Bush during the search for WMD’s was parodied on shows like SNL and The Daily Show with John Stewart. Talk of ‘evil doers’ and ‘evil deeds’ is not only outdated but is extremely offensive, judgmental and even potentially harmful. Now I must say that I am not interested in promoting a particular political point of view (because I know this side of heaven I won’t ever get it right) but I am interested in talking about the use of language and how it changes depending on what way the winds are blowing. For now, justice has been served. There is much well-deserved and rightful celebration. But I would be interested to know what will be said in the coming years about Osama Bin Laden’s life and death. He has epitomized evil in the minds of most Americans for these last ten years. Has his death also been the death of justice in our country? I sure hope not. But only time will tell.


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