Monday, May 2, 2011

Semantic Point --

I awoke this morning to the news that Osama Bin Laden has been killed, and apparently buried at sea.  My first thought?   Hope they took pictures before they "buried him at sea", or sent some DNA to CSI or wossname.

But I have a wee problem-o.  How do I feel about the whole thing?  OK, let me be clear about this:  I think he was like Hitler -- hateful, odious, no redeeming value.  He finally got what was coming to him, because I remember as clear as though it was yesterday (and it's been ten years!) how I felt when I heard the reports on the car radio on September 11, 2001, and how I felt as I watched all day on television and cried for the brothers and sisters who had died, and cried for everyone who loved all those people.  At that moment, We Americans became related -- no "six degrees of separation";  they were OUR family members.

So please read carefully, because I am relieved that such a hateful man is dead.  BUT!!  The phrases I'm hearing on television this morning:  "People all around the world are celebrating the death...."  "The news was met with delight at Ground Zero...."    "Retribution",   "Revenge" - "Joyous atmosphere...."

I'm relieved that he's gone, I hear the news with relief that a chapter has closed (and some trepidation, of course, because clearly it's not a total solution).  But there's something that jars in the reporting and it occurs to me that certain words should never be joined.  For example, "celebrate", "delight", "joyful" paired with "war" or "death".  He's gone.  GOOD!  But you know, I'm not going to raise a glass, dance in the streets or express joy.  Relief?  Yes.  Unbridled delight?  nawwww.

From the mouths of the babes:  Mr. Dearling tells me that one of his 4th grade students on tour at the museum asked him why we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.  And when I think about it, (the CW)  I first think of the hundreds of photos taken by Matthew Brady of young men lying dead on the battlefields.  I'm sorry, I can't entirely separate that image from the realization that every one of those men (or boys) was, at one time, a swaddled infant being smiled upon by his Mama or his Meemaw (or even, perhaps, his mammy).

So let's COMMEMORATE today.  Commemorate the fact that the most Evil, Hateful, Baneful Demon of our time is no longer walking this earth.   I will commemorate his death, and I feel proud of the Navy SEALS who apparently succeeded in this.  But gee, guys - I really can't celebrate  death.

NOTE:  they just mentioned that he was "buried at sea" within the required 24 hours (same as Jews - there must be burial "before the sun sets" - which is interpreted as "within 24 hours"). 

Boy - these are heavy times for Emotionally-charged Aging Jewish Bubbes.....the high of watching our little William marry that lovelly girl in England, the plunging relieved/bummer that Bin Laden's gone.  Good thing Mr. Dearling keeps a good supply of tissues at hand.

14 comments:

Jamwes said...

I've always thought we needed a better word then celebrate or even anniversery when talking about death or other bad things like that. To me, those terms have happy connotations and there are times where I want to remember something but don't want to be thought that I'm happy about it.

So, I'm right there with you in the celebration over war in death. Some other better words should be used.

CTJen said...

So true, DH. This should be a time of reflection and commemoration, not of jubilant celebration. I am both relieved to hear the news and also alarmed at what his followers my do to avenge him. I do not feel joy.

Peace to you DH. <3

kmkat said...

Well said, D-H. #1 Son called me shortly before 10 pm last night to tell me that bin Laden was dead and to turn on the TV. We stayed on the phone until Obama spoke. He (#1) said at one point that this was the least sadness he had felt at the death of a fellow human being since Jerry Falwell died. I had just been reflecting that bin Laden was someone's son, brother, beloved, etc., but had decided that his evil outweighed all that.

Sue said...

Thanks for saying that as it has been bothering me all day that people are celebrating a death. I feel being relieved is a much better way of putting the emotion....

sue said...

As usual you hit the nail on the head. I can't feel joy, nor can I celebrate. But relief, YES.

teabird said...

amen.

Marjorie said...

Me too, Dale. I was glad to learn they had a photo and DNA, and even glad they buried him with Muslim attentions; but very satisfied to hear that justice was finally done. I'm not celebrating either, but relieved indeed.

Sarah said...

Thank you for putting so eloquently what I've been feeling and so spectacularly failed at trying to express on Facebook.

Phebe said...

Thanks for your comments Dale-Harriet. MLK seems to feel the same way as you do ---

"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."
~Martin Luther King Jr

Phebe said...

Correction to my post--it seems the first sentence was said by somebody else, not MLK. Apologies for the confusion.

shari.windsofchange said...

I am so glad to see your post, I thought I was alone in feeling that "celebrating" death is wrong. Feeling relieved, especially for those who lost loved ones, seems more appropriate for a civilized country, less barbaric.

Bridget said...

I'm so glad to read this. I expressed the same kind of sentiment on Facebook, and people completely surprised me by blasting me. And one person *insists* it was only "drunken frat boys" who were celebrating. Um, that isn't what it looks like to me ...

Pamela Geier said...

Do you know where the Ursa Mater, the Great Mother statue was purchased? I really would love to have one of my own. :)

Pamela Geier said...

Do you know where the Ursa Mater, the Great Mother statue was purchased? I really would love to have one of my own. :)