Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Osama Salad

Yesterday, “couch-potato” was on the calendar.

Completely spent after going all out For Charis’ big day on Sunday, I was hoping to just sleep it off. Tune out everything and at the most just watch the winter return outside our bay window.

But someone had to go and shoot Osama bin Laden!

Thanks for that.

So I wake up to weird fb status quotes… bible verses about not rejoicing over my enemies death; or in another vein, “I wish I had pulled the trigger. May he rot in hell.” (speaks volumes for the friends and family I have on fb!).

Obviously I had missed something.

“Thank God I don’t have a tv. Actually, I’ll thank myself for that.”

The bare facts and the endless fb, twitter commentary are more than enough fodder for that half-asleep-trying-to-ignore-my-bladder-and-stay-in-bed-at-least-another-half-an-hour state of mind. In this groggy, grey, morning SDDS (self-directed-dream-stage), when my internal computer was still booting up, I processed the news of Osama bin Laden’s assassination.


“Never thought that would happen.”

Then I was in this abnormally long train station, and I couldn’t find the bathrooms.

“What does this mean?” “Does this mean anything to me?”

I was desperately trying to find the train to take me to that gorgeous Hawaiian Island, that I would love to go back to… the one with toilets right next to the beach...

… but instead my thoughts took me back to Goroka, PNG, where we got the news about the Columbine shootings. My son was about 2 or 3 years old, and I remember thinking, that the worst thing that could ever happen to me, is if my son grew up to be a murderer, worse still, a mass murderer. What an utter nightmare that would be.

Well, obviously the next link in that chain of thought was finding myself, not on some Hawaiian beach, but in a Burka in some hut sitting on a dirt floor throwing dust over myself and wailing… wailing for my son, Osama bin Laden, the mass murderer.

Then there was someone playing the same iphoto presentations that I had played for Charis on Sunday, only with pictures of Osama growing up, with the lovely and sad song 10,000 Miles, by Mary Chapin Carpenter, which I had used for one of the slide shows, playing in the background. They were the same pictures I had shown: as a baby just after delivery, a smiling child on the swings, playing in the water, mucking around with his brothers and sisters (all 49 of them), crying while getting a hair cut, in silly costumes… and I, now his mother, was wailing and weeping, “where had my little boy gone? He was so bright and passionate, full of conviction and a thirst for justice. He had so much potential! What had eaten away at his soul and carried him into darkness?”

Then other pictures were mixed in, and it was clear that those were the people lost in the towers, and the embassies, and soldiers… their families. There were slides of them on the swings and mucking about, making funny faces into the camera with their moms and dads and sisters and posing with their friends. Multi faceted gems reflecting the full spectrum of the colors of life: joy and fear and sadness and humor and anger and disillusionment and desperation and hope and determination and wit and vulnerability and a fierce longing for a better version of reality. They were all gone… 10.000 miles and maybe more….

And the frustrating thing was, that this hut too, had no bathroom.

So I went outside and began looking for justice.

But I didn’t find it in the planes that flew into the Towers.

And I didn’t find it in the tanks in Afghanistan.

And I didn’t find it in the drones in Pakistan.

And I didn’t find it in the bullet that killed Osama.

I didn’t find it in the myth of redemptive violence.

I found it in the rain that falls on us all irrespectively.

I found it in the sun that shines for everyone, hoping to grow good things in our gardens, leaving us to weed and tend to our fruit and flowers.

I found it in the idea, that we do not all get what we deserve (whew!!),

but that we should strive to give everyone what they need to grow and flourish in harmony and peace and dignity.

I found it in the dandelion growing in the crack of a concrete sidewalk.

I found it in the time that has healed old wounds.

I found it in the rebalancing of power, through creative, self-sacrificing, persistent and patience protest.

I found it in the handshake of persecutor and persecuted.

I found it in the embrace of enemies

Eating leftover chips and salsa with my now 15 year old son at 10pm yesterday evening, he asked, “Mom, what do you think of Osama’s being killed?”

hmmmm. “I think if his name had been David, we might evaluate it all in another light.”

Jonathan, “hunh?”

“I was just wondering, how much the two have in common.”

We started to list ways they were different and ways they were the same.

“David was just a shepherd boy, not the son of a construction tycoon,” he said.

Yes, I said, “but if the United States was Goliath, even the 17th son of a billionaire, seems pretty small in comparison.”

“and in one sense, David also was hiding out exercising “terror” attacks on occupants of a country.”

“Yeah, some of those stories are pretty harsh! Can’t really wrap my head around destroying the whole city of Jericho and everything in it, men, women and children,” Jonathan confesses. (not a David story, but we can add Joshua to the “terrorist watch list”).

Weighing the unimaginable hugeness of America’s military strength, the enormous sums we spend on it, and the ferociousness with which the arms industry protects and propagates its interests, I will admit, that it was always hard for me to emotionally perceive Osama as the Powerful tyrant in the equation bin-Laden vs. United States of America, and I am sure he saw the planes as his lucky sling-shot stone that brought down the giant Goliath, much to his own surprise.

So, perhaps the names have all changed, the heavy-weights and the underdogs have different faces, but the cycle of violence and the rhetoric that fuels it is that same ole lion crouching at the door to devour us.

I can’t help to mourn for what might have been had we Americans poured the same amount of time, money and manpower into humanitarian efforts in that region of the world and at home among our own instead of unleashing this hungry lion of war. Call me a daughter of the 60’s, a naive, hippie flower-child, but I can’t help thinking that maybe we could have killed the terrorist and saved Osama’s mother’s son.
And that would have been a beautiful thing.


Jan Fischer said...

that is really good...

Josh M. said...

Beautifully said! It's so much easier painting our enemy as a sub-human monster and justify our own violence instead of trying to walk in their shoes or the shoes of their mothers!

Andrew J. Hill said...

This is a well-thought out, and well-written, reflection... you know, you should be doing this full-time by joining a peace and reconciliaiton centre! :)

Lee Fischer said...


This is almost eery, it is the reality of what I was only half dreaming about, when I wrote this blog post!!!

Astrid said...

Thanks Lee for your reflective thoughts. Love following and thinking about it.