I’m still sorting out my feelings from Sunday night when President Barack Obama announced that U.S. Navy SEALs had killed Osama bin Laden. (Don’t worry, some North County stuff will come at the end of this column.)
First, I felt relieved that the evil genius of terrorism was dead. I also felt satisfaction and relief that none of our people were injured. I admired the bravery and skill of the men who did it. But I didn’t feel elation or pleasure.
So, when I saw the live video of the young crowd in front of the White House celebrating, chanting “U-S-A” and raising their beer bottles, I was disappointed and discouraged. I wanted to tell them that killing people isn’t a football game, and that it’s a sad and serious business.
Yes, bin Laden was a mass murderer and serial killer of innocent people. In video clips, he seemed to take pleasure in it and threatened to continue doing it. We had every reason to believe his threats.
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And, if someone close to you was killed on 9/11 or by any other terrorism prompted by bin Laden, you can react to his death any way you want. I wouldn’t think of judging you. You have paid a terrible price.
If you want vengeance, I can’t criticize you. The pain of a loss like yours can be excruciating. I think that’s what Obama was referring to when he said justice had been done.
But there are some remarkable people who can forgive those who harm them or their families. We should hope such people increase and multiply. The survival of the human race may depend on them. Vengeance begets reprisals and can cause vicious cycles of violence.
And now for the North County part of this column: What do Creston and Abbottabad, Pakistan, have in common? Well, each was a place where a famous religious leader lived unbeknownst to his neighbors until their deaths.
Bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad. He was famous, hated and loved worldwide, but his neighbors and Pakistani officials insist they didn’t know he was there.
And, Creston was the final home of the founder and leader of the Church of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard. He moved to a ranch near Creston around 1980 and lived there in seclusion until he died of a stroke in 1986.
Scientology has had controversy, lawsuits and movie star members. But the Creston people didn’t know Hubbard lived among them. Neither did I, and I’d been reporting North County news since 1967.
As you know, my ignorance can be breathtaking.
Reach Phil Dirkx at firstname.lastname@example.org or 238-2372.