How Osama Bin Laden’s Death Taught Me More About Myself

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“We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.”

~ Paulo Coelho

I wrote this after hearing the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death, and seeing the subsequent celebrations:

“I just don’t understand.

Three days ago, I saw people on facebook saying that they refuse to celebrate the royal wedding, that there were better things to be doing with their time. And today, I see those exact same people rejoicing over a death? Celebrating murder? Making jokes about it, too?

Is it just me, or is that just so completely backwards? Refusing to celebrate love, but celebrating the violent end of a life?

To be clear, I am in no way a sympathiser of Osama Bin Laden, and like everyone, I think he was one of the most vile people to have ever lived, but I will not rejoice in a death, no matter whose it is.

What are we celebrating exactly? Justice? Revenge? Murder? Triumph? Violence?

It was all those things that Osama claimed he was celebrating 10 years ago. I remember seeing footage of Osama’s supporters, they were cheering and dancing in the street on 9/11. I felt disgusted, horrified, and angered that they thought violence was something to celebrate.

Now I see us doing the same thing. 10 years later, so much pain, so many lives lost, and this is what it has come down to? An eye for an eye? Well, as Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

Yes, they were celebrating the mass murder of thousands of innocent people, and today people are celebrating the death of their enemy, the one responsible for so much loss and pain, but it’s still the celebration of violence.

Celebrating violence is not the path to peace. It’s the path to more violence.

This killing doesn’t mean the war is won, it doesn’t even mean the war is over. After all, there are never really any winners in war, or in violence. 

Osama’s death was inevitable and necessary. But even writing that made me feel uneasy, as it well should. The day I find it easy to say that someone needed to die, is the day my humanity is lost. Which is why I am so disturbed to see people cheering and partying and even joking about this. Are we that desensitised that war and murder and violence are now considered funny? Are we that disconnected?

Maybe we are. And maybe we can learn from this. I’ve seen many others who feel the same way I do, who just can’t bring themselves to celebrate this. Maybe this is another moment in which we must choose, and our choice determines whether or not we move forward in love or in fear. I’m choosing love. And love doesn’t grow in violence or revenge.

I will celebrate the end of war, not the end of life.”

I was very angry when I wrote that. Seeing so many news articles, tweets, status updates and facebook pages all rejoicing over violence, joking about it, sharing footage and photos of the violence, made me feel sick to the stomach. For a moment, I completely lost faith in humanity.

Sitting at the computer and being continuously bombarded with so many things that were clashing with my soul (including one very graphic image on the homepage of a news site), I realised that the only way to clear my head and calm down was to get as far away from media as possible. And that’s exactly what I did.

I sat with it for a while, that feeling of anger, trying to figure out how anyone could think violence should be celebrated. I tried to put myself in their shoes, thinking maybe if someone I loved was in those towers…. Would I then be dancing in the street? If I had come face to face with Bin Laden in that room, and if I had been the one to take his life, would I then feel the need to celebrate?

I can’t answer those questions. All I know is, it just doesn’t feel right to be joyful about this. Relieved maybe, and sad that such acts are sometimes necessary in our world, mournful for all the lives that have been lost because of this war and because of that man, and also a feeling of closure, that at least some part of the past can now be let go of for a lot of people, but no joy.

Spending some time away from the media gave me time to reflect on my anger. I realised that I was being unfair to judge others reactions just because they were different to my own. As much as I don’t understand it, I have no right to condemn the behaviour of others. We all deal with things differently, because we are all different.

If I want to live in a world where people are treated equally, and accepted no matter their differences, then I first need to make those qualities a part of who I am. I can’t preach acceptance and then condemn others for doing things differently.

And although I believe that we can’t say we want peace and then cheer at the news of violence, I will accept those whose first reaction is to cheer. They need to do what feels right for them, and I need to do what feels right for me. I respect them for doing what feels right for them, and I love them for living their truth.

The moment I realised this, all my anger dissolved. Letting go of judgement meant I stopped trying to control the actions of others, and it allowed me to feel calm and peaceful again.

Even if I don’t understand it, I can accept it, and I can let them express what they need to without judging them. And I hope that those who don’t understand my reactions and beliefs can give me the same acceptance, and the same freedom to express myself without fear of judgement.

Judgement fuels hate, it separates people, turns simple differences into right and wrong, good and evil, and all of that leads to violence, to war.

Acceptance fuels kindness, kindness brings people together, turns simple similarities into understanding and connection, friendship and love, all of that leads to a united world, to peace.

A lot has happened in the world over the last few days, some big ups and downs, and as you can see, I was affected greatly by it all. The death of a man that I only knew as the face of fear, led me to have a very personal realisation, and as a result, gain a new perspective on life.

We really can learn from every experience.

The beautiful Liv at Choosing Beauty wrote this amazing piece that gave me another new perspective on all of this: What Happened To Osama Bin Laden’s Heart?

With a more open mind and heart,

Jen ♥

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25 responses to “How Osama Bin Laden’s Death Taught Me More About Myself

  1. loved loved loved this post.

    How can you celebrate a man’s death? I mean I know he was evil and awful but celebrating someone’s death in the middle of the street and in front of the White House?

    Just seems so horrible to me.

    I am not rejoicing.

    • Hi there! 😀 I was so unsure about publishing this post. I was worried that I would be offending a lot of people, because at the time I felt like one of only a few people who felt this way. I’m relieved to see that a majority of people agree with me! Gives me hope that we really are evolving 🙂 Thank you for reading, commenting and sharing 🙂

  2. perfect and thank you for sharing it 🙂

  3. Hi Jen,
    I understand what you are saying- and I don’t agree with celebrating someone’s death.
    Maybe it would be better to have some silent reflections for all the lives lost.

  4. Thank you for writing this. I can relate in so so many ways.

  5. The media agitates.
    The media is driven by the need to have sponsors, to make money.
    Yes, there is a sickness pervading many cultures and regions, but I hope and pray that they are in the minority.
    The problem is that people that pray for love and peace do not make
    for good copy on the nightly news or for the trash rags at the grocery store check out.
    Do not dismay…grow in the peace and grace of your own path and have faith that there are many travelers on your path that live in love and know serenity….. Namaste….ME and the Boss

    • Hi Michael, you are so right about the media. Negativity and scandals sell. But I think positivity would sell just as well if that’s what we fed on. I know I prefer positive news, because that’s what I look for. Most people in our society seek out negativity, and most of them don’t even realise it. But I trust that everyone is on their own path for a reason, to learn what they need to. Thanks for reading 🙂

  6. Hi Jen,

    I’m from the U.S. and live here now and I can tell you that my fiancee and I were totally baffled by the response here of Osama’s death. I understand that everyone does have the right to make their own choices and that I shouldn’t judge them, but I was really confused about why people were acting like that. I think it should’ve and could’ve bee handled differently, but then again I’m not in New York, so I don’t know what’s going on up there. I do feel as though some people may be reacting to what others are doing as opposed to what their “truth” wants them to do.

    Great post though and way to rise above!
    Kristie

    • Hi Kristie, I think you are definitely right about people reacting to others rather than following their truth. Maybe that’s because so many people don’t really know what their truth is yet? I know their was a time when I would follow the crowd rather than my truth because I hadn’t yet figured out what my truth was, or how to know when to follow it or not. Thank you so much for reading, I always love your comments. You are so wise 🙂

  7. I’d also like to add too that most people are not reacting like that. No one I’ve come in contact with since the news has been celebrating, so maybe it’s a small population of people. Anyhow, I’m just glad I don’t have to be around it.

    • Hi again! Good point. I’ve started to realise too that there a lot of people who aren’t celebrating. I guess the media just zoned in on the celebrations because there’s more of a headline there than someone who quietly contemplates what this means for us and the world. Thanks 🙂

  8. Jen – I so agree with your post. All I could think about was his relief. My personal belief is that we choose our paths and his was such a hard, miserable lot. To go back to pure spirit and be done with this must have been a wonderful relief. So my tiny quiet celebration was not for his murder, but for his release.

  9. Thank you so much for putting into words just how I have been feeling!

  10. Hi Jen!

    Loved how this post turned out. How it evolved from not understanding people’s reactions and being angry at them to eventually accepting their choice. Kudos to you. 🙂

    Everyone has their own personal way in accepting Osama’s death. We personally think that as long as it isn’t on the extreme and dangerous ends of the spectrum, it should be tolerated and allowed. However, if it starts nationwide panic or more aggresive battles then these things should have zero tolerance.

    Nevertheless, thank you for sharing your own revelation. It was a great read! 🙂

    Tariq and Shaheera

    • Hi guys! Yes, I am SO glad I didn’t post that first part after it was finished. I knew I should wait until I had calmed down, and then what evolved from that was something so much better, so much more authentic and life changing for me. Glad you connected with it. Thank you so much for reading 🙂

  11. Jen, thank you for having the courage to speak up on such a contentious issue, and to do it in such a lovely way. You let your strong feelings come across in a way that was non-judgmental & actually really educational. It helped me solidify how I’ve been feeling about the whole thing–beyond feeling just plain confused.
    xox
    Jess

    • Hi Jess, thank you so much. I was a bit unsure and a little bit afraid of how people might react to this post, and I knew that I had to be careful with how I expressed my feelings because there are a lot of people out there who are very sensitive to this issue. But at the same time, I wouldn’t just sit silently, especially if there were other people out tere who felt the same way but, like me, thought they were the minority. Clearly, we are not the minority at all – we are just quieter! I’m glad the post came across how I’d hoped it would, and I’m really glad it helped you solidify your own feelings. Thank you so much for reading and supporting me, I am so glad we connected 🙂

  12. Pingback: Unpopular Opinion « Tutus And Converse

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