Post 2.4 - Transition

Unless you've been living in a cave somewhere with no contact with the news media, you know by now the major news story of the year. No, not Prince William's wedding. On May 2, Osama bin Laden was killed a shootout in Abbotabad, Pakistan. By the time you read this, his body has already been buried at sea, in accordance with Muslim tradition of burying the body within 24 hours of death.

Such respect was more than he showed to the victims he and his organization have killed, most notably those on September 11, 2001.

In 2001, I lived 30 miles due west of New York City. I worked at a company in central New Jersey, and on that fateful day, I was conducting software training for colleagues. I went into the training room around 8:30am, and my class began at 9am. I had no idea what was going on in the outside world as I set up computer stations, my projector, distributed printed materials and so forth. By 9:30am, class was over.

I was still at work when the towers collapsed, but the complete collapse of the communication system in the region was the more upsetting part - I couldn't locate friends or family, and even the internet went down. We were given the option to leave, which I gladly took. From the deck of my second floor kitchen, I could see the smoke from the towers on the horizon, even though they had fallen two hours before.

The hatred seethed. I didn't just want Osama bin Laden to die - I wanted all Muslims to die. Everywhere. It's illogical - I've known Muslims, I've dated Muslims, I've worked with Muslims, even lived with Muslims. They didn't destroy the towers. They didn't terrorize the people of Flight 93. They didn't kill innocents at the Pentagon. But yeah, as far as I was concerned, they all had to go. I'd had enough of dealing with this group of people and feeling like I had to watch my back. I was tired of feeling like there were places in the world that were closed to me, and that I was going to find myself being a target as I traveled.

So ultimately, I hated what Osama bin Laden had turned me into. I do not consider myself a bigoted or prejudiced person, but bin Laden had changed all of that. I was suddenly the narrow-minded, fearful personality I had always loathed in politics, society, even my own family. It was this change that I hated the most.

I also hate what has happened to this country (the US) as a result of all of this. It's not just about the travel nonsense that we must continue to endure, but our loss of rights and the secrecy and devious nature of our government. Some will say that these "changes" are what led to our successful assassination of bin Laden, and maybe they are right - but the damage is done, and for the foreseeable future, permanent. So where does that leave us?

I initially supported the action in Afghanistan, but I think it was partly due to feeling a need to do something, as I think it was for much of the country. We also believed our government, and in the end, I think it was effective. One of my fantasy scenarios was to round up the Taliban and Osama bin Laden and subject them to forced sex changes, making them live under the fundamentalist limitations they were so willing to impose on their mothers, sisters, and innocent women everywhere. We all now know how the situation was manipulated to include a needless war on Iraq, and that Afghanistan has proved to be an unending quagmire.

So I am glad this chapter is over, and as my friend Chris Benton has said, Osama bin Laden was a cancer that has been excised, and there is nothing wrong with being happy about his death. He will undoubtedly become a martyr to some, meaning his legacy will live on, and it also lives on in those of us who were alive during that horrible Tuesday in September, 2001.

But where things go from here - I have no idea.

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