Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Lopside of My Brain

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How is it I've come to Wednesday without a single word in my notebook?

Probably because the thoughts that formulate the words (or is it the other way around?) are nebulous. Scrambled. Unreliable. Capricious.

What I've been pondering is most likely the same as what others have been: the death of Osama bin Laden.

And my jumbled and gloomy thoughts.

We did it! heard round the world. Americans grandstanding.

My thoughts somber. Decidedly unbubbly.

Saturday night I had wondered if my son had worn his golf shirt to the Spirit of Washington cruise on the Potomac. Sunday, May 1st, at 11:00pm in the parking lot of the school Max attendswaiting for the airport bus shuttle to drop Max and his classmatesI listened to a NPR reporter break news that the U.S. had killed the al-Quaeda leader.

Mission accomplished!

But what does this mean for our country? I wondered. What does it mean in terms of concluding a Middle East war that began nearly ten years ago? Why now? What took so long?

(Hitler's death was announced May 1, 1945.)

For some obscure reason in my lopsided brain, I didn't feel jubilant. I felt pensive and lugubrious. As if the killing were anticlimactic, a gesture. Bin Laden had become nothing more than a symbol, a ring-leader of who-knows-how-many-worldwide-free-roaming-terrorists. Then again, had he any power at allcowering in caves, holed up in ramshackle hideaways?

We got him!

A militant Islamic group will ratchet up their plans. America will ratchet up it's security. Those were my very first thoughts. Violence begets violence.

Then, more news. Contradictions in news. He was armed. He was not... U.S. Senators say they saw a dead bin Laden photo. Then they said they did not.

What does it matter?

We executed him! A single shot to the head, it is said. A hole-in-one.

The massive outward expression of victory, the street dancing, I know, is beside the point. We all have our ways. While I didn't crack open a bottle of fizzy, I'm exhilarated that we can now move on. I'm happy that we are minus one terrorist. One fanatic. I'm happy that the death of bin Laden brings comfort and some sense of closure for those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001, as if this loss can ever be closed. But I'm sad for the world. I'm sad for what all of this9/11, the war, the execution, the residualssays about mankind, human nature.

An eye for an eye!

Did my son wear his golf shirt? He didn't. I knew he wouldn't, but I packed it anyway. I wouldn't have thought to pack it if it weren't for this conversation. And as more news unfolded this week, I came upon this headline from Obama's Golf Shoes a Clue to Bin Laden Raid. Golf shoes.

And the ramshackle mansion in which bin Laden had stowed himself was a walk away from the Abottabad Golf Course. Golf course.

Did I say (just one week ago) that I don't believe that coincidence is just coincidence? That the World conspires?

Jai Guru Deva... om...


  1. I am left feeling that bin Laden's execution has fallen to the level of a purely symbolic act. Even the movement he started has trundled along now without him, rendering him to symbolic status himself. What really will change.

    As far as the celebrations erupting in the streets of America, I think people are so starved to be apart of something, anything, bigger than themselves. And in a land of stagnant jobs and withering opportunities, the chance to revel is sorely pent-up.

  2. i liked reading this. i had a similar reaction to yours, and almost thought something was wrong with me (perhaps?) since it seemed the 'normal' thing to do was go all nutty and chant usa! and be overwhelmed with extreme revenge joy...
    what i am liking is that now, after the hoop-lala has died down, the rational people are expressing their feelings, so now i don't feel so out of the loop...or i feel in a much more desirable loop anyway.
    i liked listening to the lennon tune my blog post on the OBL business i almost added 'imagine', i adore the lyrics so. it seems when you think about peace he just comes to mind.
    and about coincidences-i just love them. rationally i just think, oh it's my human brain looking for patterns...but sometimes they are just so perfect it almost seems intentional.

  3. I wasn't jubilant either, just worried about the implications down the road.

  4. thought provoking post, Jayne - it feels wrong to be jubilant about someone being executed and yet I felt that way to some extent, more so than Saddam Hussein

  5. Hi Jayne, I feel some of the same feelings. Certainly not jubilation. Sadness, that we live in a world where a person could become so evil,and hoping his death would/will give some measure of closure to his victim's families. Still, I am unsettled with the on going accounts and contradictory reports. The scenes of cheering etc. and all the blow by blow details certainly are NOT "lifting my spirits".

  6. Jayne, you've expressed my reaction exactly!
    I have more feeling for our brave soldiers who accomplished this outstanding mission. But I am without feeling for OBL, either jubilant or sorrowful. Simply justice fulfilled.

  7. Hm. My first reaction was to begin writing the headlines...


    Republicans call for impeachment.

    Special prosecutor to investigate potential war crimes.

    AP - In a prepared statement this afternoon, House Speaker "Orange John" Boehner said: "We must give credit where credit is due. Had it not been for the spectacular incompetence shown by our unelected 43rd president and his administration, the tragic events of 9/11 might have been avoided, denying us this great moment for America, ten years later, and two years after his leaving office in disgrace, to stand here before the American people and report that it has been confirmed that...."

    You know, ten years ago, there might have been more of a feeling of justice in this. But now, ten years and three wars later....

    I'm sure you remember Reagan's supposed "peace dividend?" Unacceptable. The war machine needs to be fed: dollars and bodies. Even in terms of an eye for an eye, haven't the victims of 9/11 been avenged ten times over? At least? And is vengeance really what we want to stand for?

    Yes, we got him, and at least he was actually involved with 9/11, as opposed to someone like Saddam who, as bad as he was, was not. WMDs, anyone?

    Yes, we got him, but at what cost? I'm not sure that question has an easy answer.

    Good post.

  8. I thought I must be broken when I wasn't thrilled about the "victory." I heard about it at work the morning after the announcement. I sort of shrugged. And then...everybody else shrugged too.
    It didn't end terrorism, did it? It didn't bring his victims back to life...

  9. Jayne, you hit the nail on the head, "Violence begets violence." My fear, regardless of what is on the news, is that this is some demented thought out plan.

    I think your jumble thoughts reflect those of many of us. And that song... I been singing it for a couple of days now.
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  10. You know, a lot of people I know are in the same boat. No dancing in the streets, and a moment of pause, of reflection.
    I raised a beer in honor of fellow servicemen past and present, but that was really all.

    Also, you get bonus Dangerpoints for using my niece's favorite word: lugubrious.

  11. i found it odd that the white house chose to release a photo of obama and his crew watching the action and presumably communicating with the assassins rather than a photo of the star of the show, osama.

    i also wondered how many photos were taken of the white house crew and how many experts decided on which one to release.

    the media is the message.

  12. Robert- What really will change? Precisely. And I agree, America is starved for something to celebrate. I hope the high sustains us for a while.

    id- Funny, I was over at another site yesterday, expressing how I felt and seemed to be the minority, if not the only one, that felt this way. Glad to know I am also not alone. And the coincidence thing could be about patterns, yes, I do think we search for constants to keep ourselves grounded, but I also think there's a cosmic element to it. I'll be by to check out your OBL post!

    Lydia K- Ditto. ;)

    David- In this situation, I think many of us grappling with our conscience, and whether justice has, indeed, been served.

    Cheryl- I've shut off the TV. Not that's really ever on, but I've also stopped searching the internet. Media is just crazy. Conspiracy theories and all kinds of wacky news coming our way. Why can't we learn how to mute it a bit?

  13. Leonora- Gosh, I wish I could feel "justice fulfilled. I supposed I do to some degree, but the staggering loss of innocent lives and cost of this war tends to get in the way of that.

    Cricket- And then there was mudslinging! God we are insatiable. You are absolutely correct, the loss of lives in wars over last decade far exceeds the number of lives lost on 9/11 (by at least 3 times as much, I read). "Just war" doesn't make sense to me. Defending ourselves does, but not making war. Not continuing to feed the "machine". WMDs! Right... And they wonder why we are so jaded, skeptical! ;)

    Sweet Nessa- You are NOT broken. The world is. ;)

    Jules- Thanks for reminding me that I'm not alone. I really thought I was for a bit there. I felt completely drowned out in all the glee. Like I was struggling for air. I feel like I can breath a little easier now. :)

    Danger- I like me those L words! I used that word in a short story not long ago. Better be careful not to overdo it. And yes, toast to the troops, definitely. ;)

    BP- I thought that was very interesting, too! There is one photo in which Obama is sitting back, listening intently, but sort of at same level as all around him--definitely not at the center of the image. I wondered how much thought had gone into publishing that one. Hmmm... seemed to contain a message... ;)

  14. This is a very thought provoking post Jayne and I certainly wasn't celebrating when I heard the news.
    How much influence has Bin laden had over events around the world over the last 10 years? and will killing him make us any safer?
    The mixed messages over how he was killed have only added to my confusion!

  15. My first thought when I heard the news: Thank GOD. Maybe it'll be over now.

    Unlike most people who felt relief, though, the "it" I was thinking about wasn't the war (pick a war). It wasn't Al Q. It wasn't terrorism in general. No, it was the endless state-of-emergency bushwah. (Er, no pun intended.)

    My second thought was (speaking to myself): What -- are you CRAZY?!?

    ...because I knew that it would only get worse. They'd use his death NOT to tell us, Yes, OK, you can relax a little now. They'd use it to insist: Aaiiieee! things are even more dangerous now!

    You want to know what I think? I think the worst imaginable things which could possibly happen are indeed much much MUCH worse now than they've ever been in history. But I also think that the LIKELIHOOD of any of those things happening is tiny -- certainly not worth letting them control our lives, our schedules, our minds. That we've all been encouraged to be so never-ending fearful has distracted us from addressing so many real (really worrisome, and really solvable) social and cultural ills, and the gods know it's only succeeded in isolating us from a world population with whom we have much more in common than not.

  16. I so understand where you landed with this. An eye for an eye. My daughter used the same expression. Hard to know what to feel about it all. I still don't really know.

  17. I think it gives us a symbolic new beginning.

  18. It seems to me that the world is largely an endless circle of violence with only one logical end.

  19. Paul- I don't think his execution will make us one bit safer. All the news today is about the inevitable al-Quaeda counterattacks. They'll attack anywhere they can. And that will be on our collective conscience.
    My very first comment on the first post I read about the execution (early Monday by a Blogger I often read), was that I had never felt more afraid for this country than now. I feel that way about the entire world.

    JES- Yikes! Your comment gave me downy-haired goose bumps! My first thought was as I said to Paul above, I'm more afraid for this country than ever. I couldn't agree with you more.
    I think there will be elaborate plotting, and a heightened need to make things explode. I hope your right, though, about the likelihood of such events. I'm more inclined to believe that there will be an attack on U.S. soil. Soon.
    Peace dividends-ha! Of course we must keep feeding the machine. And it continues to grow, becoming hungrier by the day. And to Cricket, I replied: "the loss of lives in wars over last decade far exceeds the number of lives lost on 9/11 (by at least 3 times as much, I read). 'Just war' doesn't make sense to me. Defending ourselves does, but not making war. Not continuing to feed the 'machine'."
    WE may be a democracy, WE may have got bin Laden, but WE don't have any say relative to the oiling and adjustment of that machine.
    Love your last sentence JES. Why don't WE take that to congress? ;)

    Angella- It's near impossible to reconcile our feeling about this. I think it will only get murkier.

    Carol- Wish I had your kind of optimism. A new beginning, if only symbolic, is better than the dread I feel now!

    Dear Laoch- Right on. Screw global warming. I think man will come to his own made end with no one to blame but himself.

  20. When a western soldier is killed in the Middle East, the news shows us pictures of the jubilant natives dancing for joy. To me it’s just blood-thirsty callousness, and I’m ashamed to see the same actions performed by westerners.

    On a lighter note, have a great weekend, Jayne :)

  21. My new daughter-in-law (almost one year, now!) wrote me a letter after OBL's death, asking what was wrong with her that all she could feel was sadness, while her peers were elated. I answered that she was normal, if not necessarily average.

    I offer you that same (my highest)acclaim.

    Whatever benefit there might be to the death of OBL, we must first live through the conspiracy theories. Oh, brother.

  22. Hello there! Just happened to stumble upon your blog for the first time and came across this post. Like you, I had mixed feelings about the whole situation. Yes, I'm happy he is dead, because that means that he can't hurt anyone else. But, I don't think we should be dancing in the streets and celebrating like bohemians either, because that's what his followers did after 9/11. I don't think death should ever be a real celebration; it should be more of a time for reflection and for finally letting the past go peacefully. But anyway, sorry for such a long comment! Well written post!

  23. Karson- No apologies! It's nice to hear from a new voice here, and thank you for stopping by.
    Looks like bin Laden's death stirred many emotions in us. I think it's those paradoxical feelings that doesn't sit well with us--if we say we are not sad, does it mean we are happy? If we thought bin Laden had no right to live, should we not rejoice in his death? His demise at the hand of our premeditated acts, and the continuous conflicting news reports makes it doubly hard for me to reconcile what's happened.

  24. Well done, Jayne. Aside from your sensitive and balanced (yes, balanced!!!) thinking, I love the writing here and weaving together of strands. Talk soon.

  25. One more dead figurehead. And so many more unnamed on both sides will follow him. "We got him" denotes ownership. I wonder if we're prepared to own all that will come of it.

  26. Maria- Thank you, dear MM. Balanced is not how I often feel, although a permanent lopside could be considered balanced, now couldn't it? ;)

    Lord W- Precisely! I doubt very much that we're ready.

    TBFKA- Agree on all points! ;)

    Nance- Aw, Nance. You do always know just what to say. I feel better knowing I'm not in this alone. :)