Monday, May 2, 2011

24 Hours Later

War is hell.

When I first heard the news last night, I wasn't happy. I wasn't sad. I wasn't really feeling anything.

Osama bin Laden was dead, and I didn't feel anything. It didn't seem right. I was listening to people outside of my apartment singing "God Bless America" in a complete daze. Everything seemed surreal (overused word, but nonetheless). I heard people say "Fuck Obama!" and "USA! USA!" in response. (Please note: Received two comments already: No, that is not a typo.) There are two American flags on balconies today that were not there yesterday.

No one really talked about it at work today. It was brought up, but more of a "I can't believe it" than a "We did it!" sort of way.

I still don't feel anything. Not one damn thing.

I knew somebody who died on September 11. I was a "good acquaintance", at best, but it is fair to say that the attacks that day affected me personally. Indeed, they led me to a very dark time in my life, but that's a story only a small number of people know and should know. I have recovered from that dark time, and I am a better man for it.

But I'm not feeling anything ... anything.

I listened to a few "Here's what I was doing when..." stories last night, with a maelstrom of tears and beer. What was meant to be a celebration quickly turned into a group of people drowning their sorrows in alcohol, the only elixir they could find. I know the temptation all too well.

People were shooting off fireworks, wrapped in flags, bouncing beach balls, and cheering wildly in the streets throughout the country last night. Many have used the sports metaphors. Others have compared our reaction to that of some of the Palestinians after 9/11. Me? Well, I see it as a parade after a war being over. The parade is full of pride, excitement, relief, and sorrow. And tomorrow, there will be leftover confetti on the streets, a couple of people in jail, and a rising sun. All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again.

War is a human construct and an eternal reality. Conflict is in our nature. We are animals, savage beasts with brains capable of recognizing this fact. Sometimes we are capable of transcending this fact. Most of the time, we change the scoreboard.

Osama bin Laden is dead. One less evil person in the world. A stain on our collective history, yet one casualty of war. But this war has lived longer than we have, and will outlive all of us. We don't live in "interesting times" or at the cusp of some new, unforeseen future. We're metaphorical hamsters.

Some are preaching us to be joyless, some are claiming we are no better than the other side, some have found closure in whatever way they can find it.

I feel nothing. I'm too busy running on a treadmill.