I was at the Axe and Palm when I saw on TV that they were preparing for Obama’s speech about the death of Osama bin Laden. This is a short piece I wrote immediately after in the emotions of the experience.
A symbol of evil is dead today. With his unconscionable actions, Osama bin Laden created fodder for the manipulators of our system to reach into that trusted space of the American people, our patriotism. Our leaders entered the vulnerable space of our collective psychological wounds and blinded us to our responsibility — to protect not only our nation from foreign threats, but also from the very real threat of our leaders usurping their power. Our generation saw for itself that given the opportunity, our leaders have not only the capacity, but also the will to take and expand that power — in the process demanding that we allow our family and neighbors to die, our children to fail and our citizens to struggle beyond what is reasonable. Osama killed over 3,000 Americans and cracked opened the floodgates for Scooter Libby, Jack Abramoff, Alberto Gonzalez and Dick Cheney, whose lack of regard for our Constitution and their roles of power led them to wreck havoc upon the political system of the United States. Osama is dead, but the loss of all those who died and suffered in Iraq, Afghanistan, around the world and the United States will not be forgotten. However, Osama’s death, brought on by the continued bravery of the United States Armed Forces as well as the leadership of President Obama, truly does bring us hope and a lot farther toward healing.
With this, a new wave of patriotism will arise, and while it may be of different character — of hope rather than fear — the results will be the same. President Obama will have the power of an American people unified, willing to entrust themselves more than ever to the president. This group of both Republicans and Democrats will give Obama the same trust George W. Bush received following 9/11. We have to ask, in this time of great hope and great healing, will this incredible power be used to incredible ends? Or will the degradation of this country go through a second round? Will the American people pay attention to their leaders this time around? Will those with a voice use that voice to cry foul when inevitably, the corrupt arise again? The future of America is not in the hands of one great man, just as the future of America is not secured by the death of one evil man. We are all responsible to do our part, and we all pray for the strength to support one another and cry out against evil, for the sake of one’s country, one’s brothers, one’s fellow people. Understandably, Americans across the United States are thrilled, hugging, crying, high fiving and chanting “USA-USA.” Many in my generation so much so that they ride along the borders of social appropriateness in their flippancy in describing the acts. That’s okay for today. Chuck Norris, a symbol in his own right and perhaps the closest thing to a universal American hero in the past decade, can take credit for taking us into a bright but uncertain new decade. Today is rightfully a celebration. But tomorrow, I hope that we will all be vigilant and willing to answer the call when justice demands, when obvious wrong happens in our own country, perpetrated by its own leaders. Our freedom and our children’s freedom demand it.
Jonathan Poto, ‘13