May 4, 2011

My Reaction is Better Than Yours: Osama and the Patriotism of Righteousness

I found out about Osama’s death the same way I found out about the attacks on the World Trade Center: I was in bed.

In 2001, I was waking up to the radio.

This Sunday, I was giving my Twitter and Facebook feed one last look prior to turning to my right and closing my eyes.

In 2001 I felt many things, but mainly shock, sadness and confusion. Sunday, I felt many things, but overall, I must say, I felt happy.

There, I said it, I am happy the f#cker is dead.

Mirroring 2001, and this time with my iPhone and MacBook in tow, I jumped out of bed and ran to my television: watching and waiting and wondering.  I loaded my feeds, flipped through news channels, and opened a variety of sites.

My initial happiness turned to a moment of pain and sadness, and a few salty tears slid down my cheeks.  The sadness morphed into a moment of liberal partisanship, and I blasted off a few cynical, partisan tweets.

Now 20 minutes into the announcement, for the first time ever, my Twitter and Facebook feed was filled with comments about only one thing: the death of Osama Bin Laden.

As I watched the comments scroll and the commentators on television present, I fell into a somber reflection.  I wondered: what does this mean for Obama’s reelection? Why do I feel happy? Why do I feel sad? Should I feel something different? Why do I want to throw a water balloon at GW? Why am I so cynical? Why am I constantly thinking about what I think and feel?  Why am I constantly thinking about myself?  I should think about other people and be more evolved.  What does this mean for Americans? Muslims? Humanity? What does this mean for peace? What does this mean for our future?  Would it be wrong to have a drink and celebrate?

I’m still happy the f#cker is dead.

Drinking a bourbon and toasting President Obama, the pallet of my thoughts and feelings were reflected on my media feeds, and mainly fell into four camps:

1) Those celebrating
2) Those calling for reflection
3) Those blasting off partisan rhetoric, and
4) Those expressing cynicism,
a) It doesn’t matter
b) it isn’t true

Opinion and patriotism breeds self-righteousness.  Each camp was questioning the others’ perspectives and reactions claiming their own as right.

Interestingly, those calling for reflection seemed to be the most critical.

I understood and felt each camp’s perspective.  I felt and thought them all.  I understood them all.  And my overriding reaction remained, I am happy the f#cker is dead.

I don’t like death.  I firmly believe in justice.  Death is never right; however, what is just is not always right.  Death is wrong, and Osama’s death is just.

Commentaries of the Bhagavad Gita, in my view, often fail to emphasize a critical point: the entirety of the Gita, the canon of Krishna’s teaching and discourse on yoga and enlightenment is toward one point and one point only: Arjuna getting up and doing his dharma.  Arjuna’s dharma, in the Gita’s narrative, is killing the Kuru clan, members of this own family, because it is just.  The Kurus were criminals and nihilists.  They hated life, and their crimes and nihilism made their death just – Arjuna’s yoga was ultimately one of proliferating a just death.

A quote attributed Martin Luther King, Jr. went viral yesterday:

“I will 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.”

As it turns out, Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t say the first sentence. And I do like the sentiment.  And I don’t think death is always hate or darkness.  Sometimes death is just, and justice is light.  Justice is dharma.

I understand the fountain of thoughts and reactions on Sunday night. I shared them.  And when I say I am happy that the f#cker is dead, I am not celebrating death, I am celebrating justice.

I am happy the f#cker is dead.

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