In top secret news that I'm sure that no one reading this has heard, Osama Bin Laden was confirmed dead last night. Social networking being the powerful thing that it is, I found this out from Twitter shortly after the news got out and before Obama's press conference and shared the news with my best friend who was sitting next to me while we were studying for exams.
Any notion of studying was quickly lost in discussion of what exactly these events meant, as well as eavesdropping on the commentary from our classmates, who were talking at excessively high volumes in all corners of the cafeteria. In addition to this, we were both paying close attention to our Twitter and Facebook newsfeeds and within about fifteen minutes, one thing became very clear.
People are just...dumb.
Let me first say that when I heard the news, I had a feeling of a little bit of relief, mixed with shock that it had actually happened. I recognize that the country can maybe, just maybe, breathe a little easier now, knowing that someone who has caused our country so much grief is gone now. I understand that this means closure for many people, friends of mine included, who lost family members and friends in the terrorist attacks and subsequent war. And I understand that for our country in general, this is a huge victory and something that should be able to bring people together. A little piece of me would have loved to have been in New York City or DC last night to see the reactions of those places. I can only imagine that emotions would have been running at an all time high.
Despite all of this, I have to admit that to say that my emotions on the subject are incredibly mixed would be a gross understatement. This is likely prompted by the horrendous stupidity that people were spewing forth, both verbally and via social networks. Within a few minutes of the news getting out, the cafeteria was filled with people doing three things.
1.)Praising George Bush
2.)Proclaiming that Obama is still a heathenistic do-nothing, unworthy of the respect that befits his office
3.)Hateful and vicious comments reminiscent of "Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead"
The first of these is something to which I have absolutely no objection whatsoever. Regardless of how you feel about his time in office, you simply have to admit that there were, in fact, efforts made on Bush's part that in some way, shape, or form (no matter how small you make think it is) contributed to this. The man was placed in an extremely trying situation and handled the devestating tragedy that occurred on 9/11 to the best of his abilities, and while some people may not agree with the war (and I am, in fact, one of these people), he did his best in regards to security and defense of his country, and for this, it's okay to commend him.
The flipside of this argument brings me to my second observation. The people that I was overhearing would in one breath praise our former president, but then two seconds later would proceed to bash Obama, pointing out each and every flaw in his administration to date. Things that were of absolutely no consequence to the situation at hand, such as gay marriage being passed in a state and the debt, were being criticized and picked apart. The anti-Obama statememts worsened after his press conference confirming what we already knew. People said that he was making it all about himself, taking all the credit, and disparaging that hard work that everyone else did. In short, even though he's leading our country in a time of a tremendous national victory, the man is still scum and not to be respected for any of his efforts.
These anti-presidential statements were (typically) made in an ignorant and uninformed manner. Comments like, "George Bush is still my president" and the oh-so-overused, "Well, I didn't vote for him" rang in my ears and caused my palm to permanently fixate itself to my forehead for a great deal of the evening. It truly was a testament to the idea that in the eyes of many people, Obama simply cannot do anything right. This incident comes just days after the president succumbed to public outcry and released a copy of his birth certificate to quell the absurdly unfounded claims that he didn't have a legal right to run the country. After the release, people still found ways to criticize him, either by saying he forged it or that, to paraphrase one individual's remarks, "he wasn't getting reelected anyway, so why was he wasting our tax dollars and government time to validate himself?" The man simply can't please some people, and this is a sad, sad thing. As a nation, we do these things and then wonder why other countries view us as ignorant and self-righteous.
Putting the political aspects of this situation aside and moving ahead to point three, I'm going to do something incredibly lame and quote myself from a post I wrote a few days ago on Facebook.
"...As a Christian, I feel as though I'm expected, even obligated to hate. And that is something that I cannot stand."
Although the situations to which this quote was originally referring is a much smaller and insignificant issue in the grand scheme of things, this statement has rung true over and over again over the past several hours. As I mentioned before, I recognize that, as a whole, this occurence is a great victory for the United States. However, I am finding that there is a fine, fine line between maintaining national pride and fueling the fires of hate that we refuse to condone from anyone else. I have seen more self-proclaiming Christians making statements like, "Enjoy your time in Hell" and "He's dead! Thank you, Jesus!" over the past couple of days than I care to see in my entire lifetime.
While what this man did was, without a doubt, evil and heartless, the simple fact of the matter is that he still had a soul; a soul that God didn't care any less about than yours or mine. One of my classmates said it best, "Jesus died for Osama, just like he died for you." Last time I checked, this guy wasn't the only one of us who deserved death and hell. If I recall correctly, there's something known as grace that keeps us from sharing the same fate. Have we really reached such a point in our self-righteousness that we think that it's okay for us to rejoice in a lost man's eternal damnation? If we have, then we are in a sad, sad place.
To sum all of this up, it's okay to be proud of our country today. Give honor to someone in the armed services today. They do their best to protect you and are really the ones deserving of the credit here. It's okay to breathe a sigh of relief and recognize that for a little while, some people can sleep a little easier. And it's definitely okay to have a little bit of respect for the people in current leadership positions, no matter how much you dislike them.
But please realize that if you're rejoicing in the death of someone who symbolized hatred, you're only perpetuating the same principle that you're condemning. And that, my friends, is what we call hypocrisy.