Osama bin Laden

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

If your one of the few who follow me on Twitter, you may have read that I was at James Richardson Airport when news of Osama bin Laden's death was reported. When word broke that the POTUS (an acronym, btw, that I'm now obsessed with) was making a surprise (not sure if that's the right word for it. It's not like Obama was like, "Hey guys, surprise!!") announcement regarding national security, I had my last $20 that the US was deploying a contingent of troops to Libya. Instead, we were given the biggest piece of breaking news since 9/11.

Now, I grew up with Saddam Hussein being the ultimate villain. Some of the very first news casts I ever watched as a child had to with the invasison of Kuwait, Dessert Storm, Gen. Schwarzkopf, and of course a fatigued-clad Hussein shooting a 9mm pistol into the air in front a throng of his most fervent supporters. Simply, the man scared me. However, when Hussein was put to death in front of the world to see (whether we were supposed to or not) just a few years ago, I didn't feel a sense of vindication, pleasure, sadness, or really anything for that matter. And to be honest, I can't really explain why. Maybe it's because he looked like a shell of his former self. Bearded, scrubby, and gaunt, this Hussein didn't look as intimidating. 

And the fact that there weren't any links with him to WMDs or 9/11 also made the occasion less vindicating. 

News of bin Laden's demise, however, brought with it a gushing canal of emotions and thoughts. 9/11 happened at a pivotal time in my life. A year before, I attended a conference in Whitewater, Wisconsin on world affairs. The event brought 16-year olds from all over the world and was framed around the notion of "the global village" and globalization in general. Hell, Ralph Nader was the keynote speaker.

We discussed globalization's pros and cons, and whether or not the world and humanity were headed in the right direction. I left feeling more alive and connected than ever. I felt as if the world I lived in provided me with every opportunity to succeed in a peaceful, positive, and encouraging way.  

That fall I was starting my first of, gulp, seven years of university (and no, I'm not a doctor). I saw the second plane crash into the WTC on a business news network as I was getting ready for my second day of school. I thought the planes crashing into the towers was purely accidental. I also didn't comprehend at the time that anyone could have possibly died in the melee, or that my innocence would be proverbially misplaced for awhile. 

Is the world a safer place without bin Laden in it? I guess ultimately we'll never know. How large a role he's played in Al Qaeda's daily operations is unknown. But where do we go from here? What new target with the US point it's rifles at in the name of Homeland Security? I can only hope that collectively we as a global village we direct our efforts at healing the world through word and compromise, and not force and gunfire.

Talk about a sunset ending. 


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