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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Osama is Dead, Long Live Obama

This isn't a pleasant post.  As I feel this blog is the sum total of my work, I feel it necessary to comment on the events of the day--even when I have very little to say, or very conflicted feelings.  Given that the killing of Osama bin Laden is the biggest news of the past five years, I feel obliged to comment.

I was in bed when the news came.  My fiance woke me up to tell me.  My first reaction was that I thought someone had shot the president. (I was half asleep).  I leapt from the bed in horror, a truly awful and heart rending feeling in my chest.  She was super excited and started reading the article, I cottoned on after a second, and listened to the sparse details released at the time.  During this recitation, I went back to bed.  She continued to read the article as I lay face down in the pillows.  I knew she wanted me to speak, so I said the only cogent thought that came to mind, "Two years.  Well, I guess it wasn't that hard Mr. Bush."

The next day, as we learned more, I was very passively receiving.  I felt obliged to use one of my free 20 articles at the Times to get the skinny.  I didn't even bother to finish it.   I'd heard that the man had been shot in the head.  They said there was a firefight, but head shots are only achieved by snipers and by close, sometimes point blank shooting.  Either way the man did not die the death of a martyr.  I was pleased, I admit, by that.  Either he died on his knees staring death in the face, or he died in midflight hurriedly dodging bullets.  Then again, who knows how martry's die?  Death is never pretty, and no one "looks good" doing it. 

After, I cruised the internet for other people's reactions.  I recalled from my dreamlike state the night before that people were gathering and chanting "USA!  USA!  USA!"  I've always found this behavior disgusting.  It doesn't matter to me whether or not its a U.S. v. Canada hockey game, or the killing of a mass murderer.  Aside from the murderous intent behind such chanting, aside from the ignorance and fear it demonstrates, or the inflamatory ultra nationalistic zeal it engenders, it bothers me on an entirely different level.  It's groupthink.  Even on Passover, I recite the Hagaddeh with the others, and make funny voices until my 'better half' gives me a healthy poke.  I find it filthy, and I feel filthy witnessing it or participating in it.  It's a classic mob mentality.  It's very human, but as a humanist, I have much higher hopes for my people.

I've always been on the outside.  As Nietzsche put it, I peered into the abyss.  And I came to love that isolation, to revel in it.  All of which to say--this might be a personal hang up.  It seems normal that people chant at baseball games, at religious events, at executions, at protests.  So why does it not seem normal to me?  Why do I find it so reprehensible?  I could join in easily.  Sure, maybe not at a baseball or football game, I hate sports, and know little about them.  But I could have easily insisted we travel down to Times Square that night to revel in the blood thirsty dance.  Even had I tried, even had I felt something at Osama's death, I would have felt self concious screaming out bloody murder.  I use to be more musical, I tried writing songs.  I couldn't write a lyric to save my life.  Everything felt hollow, corny, trite.

My mother was mere blocks away from the WTC on 911.  I myself had been scant miles from the Pentagon on 911 and could see the smoke from the roof of my dorm.  It was a very peaceful day for me.  I hit the liquor store before the rest of the schmucks fled the city.  And I lay with a girl, on a sunny roof, with a beer. 

Today, I work in a 50 story building in the most targeted city in the world.  I even work for a firm that represents the day's symbols of corporate avarice and disunion.  I am a target.  And I don't care.  I don't feel threatened, and now that the man is dead, I don't feel safer, or less safe.  This is my problem, I get that I'm different like that.  But really, I'm quite an anxious person, incredibly anxious.  But my fears are real, they are things that happen to me every day, the awful things that can and do go wrong almost daily.  They are the casual guilts from not responding to phone calls or emails, or shirking someone else's work, or not progressing in my own life or career.

My building might blow up today.  I'll be scared shitless, I'll run down the stairs, probably throwing people out of my way.  I may make it out, but I probably wouldn't.  50 floors is a long distance to walk.  But I can't get it up to be scared about that.  I'm scared about my upcoming wedding.  I'm scared about how my family will get along, and if I'll have the money to pay for it all.  I'm scared about my fiance's visa status, I'm scared about what the next six months will hold for us.  But I'm not scared of Osama.  I never was.

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