The news that flashed around the world at great speed came to my knowledge just as I was returning from lunch today. US President Obama of course used this as a platform for American truimphalism and mentioned phrases to do with moving forwards to the task ahead. It was all incredibly typical.
What I was not expecting was reports coming in via the BBC World Service, being relayed via Twitter and Farcebook (sic) and even across forums which I visit of rejoicing and almost jubilation at the death of Osama Bin Laden and yet somehow this didn't seem to sit right with me.
Four days ago with the wedding of Prince William and Princess Kate, we were treated to scenes of great pomp and circumstance and quite rightly so, as this was after all the wedding of the future King of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth Realms. This however was met with a degree of apathy as well as celebration in both the UK and Australia.
To me this represents some sort of contrast. On one hand we have people who are celebrating an event which is supposed to be a time for celebration being met with apathy, yet on the other we have the killing of a man (albeit one who was a scoundrel and really quite horrible) being met with a great deal of celebration. To be sure I think that the world is probably a marginally safer place for his passing, but to rejoice at someone's death?
If this is perhaps seated in the motives of revenge, then perhaps a review of the facts is in order.
About 3000 people died all up in the terrorist attacks on Sep 11, 2011. It is estimated that in the ten years since, between 34,000-38,000 Taliban & insurgents have been killed with a further 14,000-30,000 civilians who have also perished. If revenge seeks a blood payment under the laws of exact retribution, then surely that payment has been forcibly taken from anywhere between sixteen and twenty-two times over. Does that require rejoicing over the fact that the deal is decided unfair?
The more I think about this, I increasingly uneasy about rejoicing over the death of this man. We've seen ten years of bloody and stupid conflict; involving people who really should not have had any part in this at all. I think that the best thing that could happen at this point is that the desert flowers should forth their tender shoots of hope, the oaks should grow gracefully and the earth should remember him not, but to start rejoicing is a nasty nasty response considering the price which has been paid.