Ah, Jared's Java. Pleasant taste. Slight Monsterism.

Welcome to the home of my mind, where I brew my intellectual and spiritual joe. Sit back and let me pour you a cup or two. I promise not to cut you off, even after you get the caffeine jitters.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Life and Death

Last night, the news came, and boy did it come hard. At first, I was just really annoyed that something seemed to be wrong with the new episode of the Simpsons. But, when I realized that actual "breaking news" was occurring, I was somewhat excited. If I were a cable news watcher, I'd not have been phased, but we haven't had cable or satellite TV for years now.

We sat in silence, eyes glued to the screen with the same intensity we felt almost ten years ago when we watched the second tower fall. The analysts on CBS kept saying the same thing: Osama Bin Laden had been killed by a US Joint Ops Task Force and we were awaiting word from the President.

A flood of memories came rushing back. I thought back first to the waning days of the Clinton presidency, when he had ordered missile strikes against a couple of bases that this terrorist guy named "Osama Bin Laden" had been operating out of. Apparently, he was the mastermind behind the strikes on a couple of US embassies in Africa the year before. I thought it was trumped up crap because Monica Lewinsky was taking the stand when Mr. Clinton interrupted all national broadcasts to speak to the American people about the military actions being undertaken on our behalf.

The next time I heard that name was in the days following the 9/11 attacks. I didn't leave my house until three days after the towers fell. I couldn't quit watching the TV, hanging onto some hope that there would be more survivors, that they would dig up some of the living. When it became obvious that nothing would change, I started to try to figure out how I was going to live life again. But, I remember watching this bearded weirdo with a turban on his head delivering an exultant speech about how we finally got ours. Watching the weeping talk about how their life will never be the same because their daddy died on a plane in a field in Pennsylvania, or their brother was buried under the rubble of the south tower, I felt a burning anger for the injustice at their suffering, and a rage toward the man who pulled it all together.

For the next two years, it seemed like it was "All Osama, all the time." More words of hatred and vitriol flowed from him toward us. We saw more footage and heard more tape of his anger toward "the West" as embodied by the United States. Then, as our forces mounted for a long engagement in Afghanistan, the Taliban told us that he said he was sorry in an attempt to save their own asses. We stormed in and scoured the country for him, chasing him into the Tora Bora mountains where he slipped through our grasp, seemingly forever.

Over the last decade, we've seen occasional video, heard tape recordings from him, but all slowly metered out. As if to give just enough of a ghostly presence to embolden those who would take up arms in the name of hatred and unnerve the general public in the US. After a while, many considered him dead somewhere, either in quiet solitude or blown apart and unrecognizable by a blast from the armed forces.

Then, awakening our emotions over this ten year relationship with hatred, as if slapped hard in the face, came the news last night that he had been killed in his compound in Pakistan just that morning. I was confused and saddened. After the president finished his prepared speech, I looked into the eyes of the woman who had been with me through all of this, I teared up and said, "I love you." I'm not sure why, but it just seemed to be the right thing to do. I believe the end of a decade plus in this queer dance with a madman should feel confusing. And the death of another soul, no matter how evil, should never feel good. Death isn't something of which to be jubilant. It is always a sad affair.

Jen got up off the couch, no small task at 21 weeks with child, and meandered into the kitchen to filter some water. The coverage on the television began to shift to the crowd outside the White House, a bunch of younger, college-aged kids chanting "USA! USA! USA!" outside the gates. It seemed odd to me. They were just young children when this all began. A ten year-old does not have fully developed emotions. They couldn't have known what it all meant when this started.

She waddled back in with a small glass filled with the water and began to tend to the plant starts we have sitting on top of the entertainment center, her now very large belly protruding in front of the upper left corner of the TV. I watched her as she, full of our new life, tended to the seedlings that we planted together, as the images of those celebrating death flashed across the screen.


Niki said...

Sounds to me like your focus was in the right place.

Jaye Logan said...

sorry this has nothing to with you post, but i started an art blog this summer and it just occurred to me that you might be interested in it.
it's not manga, but you might like it.....