–nounanxiety that results from simultaneously holding contradictory or otherwise incompatible attitudes, beliefs, or the like, as when one likes a person but disapproves strongly of one of his or her habits.
I’ve tried for most of today to think about what to say and how to say it. To balance what I want to say with the proper conveyance of emotions. Because my emotions, much like my thoughts, are conflicted in the wake of last night’s news.
On the one hand, I feel…relief that bin Laden is dead. On the other?
I feel hurt in my heart for those who are openly rejoicing in celebration of his death.
The last thing I saw before I went to bed last night was a group of people who, before the President could even make his announcement, had flocked to the White House. They were waving flags and singing our national anthem.
I read tweets from people saying their neighbors were shooting off fireworks.
And then this morning there was a picture of young men, maybe early college, 20 or 21 years old, driving down the street with the flag through the sunroof, pumping their fists for cameras.
The images of people having impromptu parties and seeming like Spring Break-ers in the wake of this kind of turn my stomach a little. And hurt my heart.
My heart hurts for humanity.
Today in class, and I could not have timed this more coincidentally, we were watching the end of The Great Gatsby. Both the novel and the movie end with a murder-suicide. And some of y’all know I’ve been personally and professionally affected by suicide.
Today, as that scene was drawing closer, I heard a student say “Eat it” in reference to the man about to kill himself. My heart sank just a little deeper into the pit of my stomach.
In another class, after sharing my heart with my students, one young man says “But this is fake. And we know that. So it’s funny to us.” But it’s not. And I told him I thought as much.
Even though this is a fictional tale, murder and suicide and killings happen every day. And if we reach a point where we revel in both fictional AND real violence, what does that say about our ability to maintain some sense of human decency?
What does that say about our ability to be compassionate people?
Another student said “If we celebrate one death, we’re not honoring life.” To which I replied “Exactly. And I don’t mean that person’s life. I mean ALL life.”
It’s true, y’all. At least in my way of seeing the world.
If we reach a point where we openly rejoice at the death of one person, what does that say about how we view and value life?
“But, but…an eye for an eye, Miranda! He deserved it!” some say. And I don’t disagree with that.
In fact, I think a quick death was maybe too good for him.
But, as Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”
Obviously, bin Laden didn’t care at all for the thousands of lives he took on 9/11. And he hasn’t cared for the thousands he’s probably taken in other attacks in his years of terrorism. But does that make it okay for us to celebrate his death? To parade around like we’ve just rid the world of all evil?
Because we haven’t. Not even.
Evil is like the weeds in a garden. You can pull one weed, but more weeds will grow.
But then another student says “but it’s a start. He was a figurehead. A symbol of al-Qaeda.” And I can’t argue with that. He was.
And that’s where the cognitive dissonance comes in. This feeling of conflict and unrest in my soul.
How do I rationalize this?
How can I be okay with feeling relief that he’s dead while feeling saddened by the rejoicing about his death?
Does his death bring closure to those who lost their loved ones in the attacks he planned? Truly? Does rejoicing in the streets erase what he did?
To me it doesn’t.
I feel like society would have me feel happy that he’s dead. And yet I can’t feel happiness, or anything even kind of like happiness, today.
I’m trying to just feel nothing.
Because if I allow myself to find happiness in this, then what does that say about the human I want to be?