Mr. K had just left the house yesterday morning to take the dog for a walk when he shot back in and exclaimed, “I think Bin Laden is dead!”

My first reaction was — “WHAT???”  A mixture of “that can’t be right” and “really?” and “oh my gosh, I can’t believe that” and “quick, let me get to CNN.”  It wasn’t exactly “Oh, thank God he’s dead” or “I hope he’s rotting somewhere.”  Distilling it down, I think my first reaction was just honest surprise.

My second reaction was — “Finally, they got him.  That’s good.”  And a little of, “maybe they [miscellaneous assorted midwesterners and Republicans] will finally leave him [the President] alone.”

By this point I was on CNN reading the story, and kicking myself for having gone to bed 15 minutes before the announcement came out.  Being an obsessive news troll, I spent the remainder of the day glued to NPR (in the car) and CNN and Facebook (on my computer).

(I know, you’re probably wondering about Facebook.  But I find that many of my friends read different periodicals than I do, and they usually post links, which means I get news sources that I wouldn’t have otherwise found on my own.  It’s actually a productive use of my time.)

While scrolling through my Facebook feed, I noticed many, MANY friends posting a quotation attributed to Martin Luther King, Jr.:

I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
(Though in a humorous footnote, it turns out that MLK said no such thing; it’s the work of a random Twitterer and social networking gone bananas.  An issue for another discussion.) 
One of my other initial reactions was — what must it feel like to be the SEAL that shot him?  What has to happen to you, or what do you have to do, to get to a headspace where you could ACTUALLY SHOOT SOMEONE?  In the grand scheme of things maybe it’s not that tough; lots of people clearly kill each other all the time.  But I just can’t conceive of getting to that place in my own head where I could actually do it. 
So here’s the point of this post:  Was it wrong for the SEAL to shoot Bin Laden?  (I don’t think so.)  Was it wrong to be pleased that we finally “succeeded”?  (Again, I don’t think so.)  Is it different to be pleased that we succeeded at our goal after spending 10 years at it, as opposed to simply being pleased that he is finally dead?  Is it wrong to celebrate his death?  (I don’t know.)
These are the kind of thoughts that give me headaches.
 

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