complicated

Please let this bring peace, I said last night. And I don't mean, in the world. Peace is something that cannot be willed, no matter how many times we sing Imagine or wish for it on our birthdays. I'm not that naive. The peace I wish for today, and last night is in people. In people who lost loved ones in war, on 9/11... For people who have carried anger, hatred, pain, sadness with them because of the events of ten years ago.

I'm still having a hard time trying to reconcile the events of last night. I don't believe in the death penalty under any circumstance - I come from a long line of pacifists. I teach my children that "kindness is the single most important thing a person can be" ... even when people are cruel to us. I tell them, "there's no such thing as bad guys, just the misinformed, mistreated, terribly afraid, sick." I still believe that. I will always believe that.

But last night complicated things for me.

I don't believe in eye for an eye, so how does one explain to her children the news? The cheering in the streets as the word DEAD flashes across the screen? For me, I'll admit, it's difficult. No matter how evil and how much damage this one man did.

I tend to shy away from political debate here on GGC, because when it comes to politics, we're all wrong. Because we don't know the full story. We don't even know part of the full story. We know slivers of what has been reported, assumed, projected... Because we refuse to listen with open ears to the other side. Because division makes me feel carsick.

But I felt the need to write about this today as a parent struggling to explain the news to her children last night, as we watched, as a family, Obama deliver his speech.

We took the kids to Ground Zero when we were in New York, after explaining to them (Archer, mainly. Fable's still too young) what happened there. We told Archer about the towers falling, ten years ago and how they were finally rebuilding them. Two weeks later (last night) we explained to him the man responsible was now dead - that our soldiers killed him, that tonight was an historical one.

"And that's why people are celebrating?"

Yes, I thought. But I had a hard time saying so out loud.

"They're celebrating because they're relieved."

We put the kids to bed and went back to the news where I felt a hundred thousand different things until finally, I turned off the television, went to bed, didn't sleep.

This morning, on the way to school, I asked Archer if it was okay if I listened to the news for a few minutes.

"I'd like to listen, too," he said.

After a minute I turned down the voices.

"What do you think of all this?" I asked him. I admitted to him that I felt conflicted. That I understood the celebrating but was having a hard time joining my peers in doing so.

"I don't believe in killing people, mom, but everyone dies eventually and when some people die it saves people's lives."

"That's true."

"People are happy because now this man can't kill anyone else, including children. So, its okay."

We're celebrating because we're relieved.

I mumbled something insignificant, about "feeling strange, unresolved... quiet."

"It's complicated for me, too." Archer said.

I turned off the news. That was all I needed to hear. Because it IS complicated. Because I want more than anything for my children to understand that everything is. Even this. Especially this.

GGC

118 comments:

CP | 9:50 AM

very well put! intelligent and compassionate...your kids are lucky to have such a great mom.

the grumbles | 9:51 AM

wise for his years. for all the things that have been said today and last night, some funny, some serious, it is very very complicated.

Lindsey | 9:54 AM

This is so lovely. I'm a bit speechless this morning because just last night I found myself in a detailed and intense conversation with my kids (6 and 8) about 9/11. For the first time I really told them what happened, because they asked. And to wake up to this news today feels odd, a coincidence and yet not. I told them that the bad guy we had talked about just last night had been killed, and my daughter was surprised that this was good news. When is killing ever good news?
I am very ambivalent today about all of the celebrations. It doesn't seem to me there's anything to celebrate. Osama's death is just another echo of a situation that reminds me how far we are from understanding one another.
But you are right: I want my kids to understand this, even this, this complicated, messy thing.
xox

Bekah | 9:55 AM

Smart kid. I had/am having hard time with this as well. Did he do horrible awful things? Yes. Am I happy he can no longer hurt anyone? Absolutely. Did I want him to die? No.

I cant look at a person, regardless of their crimes, and not see that they are someone's baby. That he once ran around as a happy toddler. I dont believe anyone is born evil, and I desperately wish he had made different choices in his life.

Sonja | 9:55 AM

What a wonderful little man you have. Such a Sage indeed.

(I agree with him wholeheartedly!)

Shelley Senai | 9:56 AM

How is Archer only five? I love hearing his take on things.

I feel the same - totally conflicted. I don't feel happy, I don't really feel relieved and I certainly don't feel safer. Maybe it's because I never really attributed all the evil to one man. It is a network and a whole sentiment that is the real danger and roadblock to peace.

I do feel though that this is a political victory for Obama and for that I am glad.
-@thespotttedduck

Brianne | 9:57 AM

Weird. I thought exactly along the same lines on my run this morning. How I just couldn't celebrate the death of another human being, or the fact that somebody's son had to pull the trigger and put a bullet in someone else's head. (I too am a pacifist. I felt sick when I saw the video of Hussein being hanged.) Yet I understand why people are relieved. Complicated, indeed.

Mama Kat | 9:58 AM

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Dana | 9:58 AM

I felt great unease watching the crowds outside the White House last night.
This is an incredibly powerful post and I think Archer is filled with profound understanding and perspective for someone so young. Well, for anyone, period.

NodToStyle | 9:59 AM

Under no circumstances is death a reason for celebration; relief, yes. But celebrating seems so wrong in so many ways.

Zunders | 9:59 AM

Beautiful post, and so well said. Thank you.

Hayley | 9:59 AM

Rebecca, I struggled with the same feeling. Depressed? Elated? Archer's correct. It's complicated. Thomas Beller put it best on his twitter, I think. "No cheering mobs, or anyone, on Manhattan's Upper West. Went to Strawberry Fields for some reason, stood on 'Imagine.' Peered at tulips." John Lennon, I thought. Yes.

Amy | 10:00 AM

I am sticking my childrens' head in the sand with this. We don't watch news together and don't discuss it in front of them (ages 5 & 2). I don't know if I could ever explain this to them this young. But I am relieved as well, for so many reason.

PunditMom | 10:04 AM

Trying to explain to this to children too young to remember what actually happened on 9/11 is extraordinarily tough. I let PunditGirl watch some of the news before school today because I knew there would be others talking about, possibly even the teachers in her 5th grade class. I didn't want her to be unprepared, but trying to explain something as big as the last 10 years and our approach to 9.11 is rough, to say the least

Cassie Boorn | 10:06 AM

Love this post. I have had such conflicted feelings on this that I can't even begin to address it.

I have many friends cheering and relieve and other friends that are disgusted at the world for celebrating a death. Any death.

And me? I don't really feel anything. I think that if his death meant peace or closure than that would be good. But I feel like this death isn't the end of anything. The war probably won't stop now and the hatred and fighting won't either. If anything his death assured the American people that we are doing the right thing. That our plan is working. That war is the way to go. And I am not sure that I can stand behind that...

As far as explaining this to my child? I haven't event began.

loodles | 10:09 AM

For my children I want a world in which things are ideal, where I can say killing is always 110% wrong, because it is.
He was a twisted, awful man whose heart had hardened long ago. And as much as it pains me and makes me feel conflicted, he was was well beyond reformation.
I hate how he and his ilk have loosened more hate and destruction in our world. I hate how many people, some innocent and some not, have died in this battle of ideology. But I refuse to let situations make me hate other people. I hate their actions, but I will not let myself decend into the hatred of my fellow human beings.Though I can certainly empathize with the rejoicers I could never feel joy in killing. I feel sadness, a seriousness, a terribly painful door closing but not jubilation.
And yet when I try to explain to my pure hearted daughter...words fail.

Caleb Gardner | 10:13 AM

Complicated is damn right. I'm so glad my son isn't old enough to have to explain this yet.

Meg | 10:21 AM

Archer is right.

I was there, and I've been carrying around a lot of hurt and sadness for the last ten years. Literal hurt too, my body has never been the same, since breathing in all that death and smoke and trama, for months on end. And then the emotional hurt, which stays with you like scars on your soul.

Yesterday was hard for me, I was shaking, I was giddy, I was crying, I wanted to throw up. But was I glad he was gone? Very much so. Did it allow some measure of closure? Yes, I think it will. But right this second, it just reminded me that they are all still dead, and we are all still in some level of pain, and maybe always will be. But I want to kiss those special ops guys on the mouth, and that's ok too.

Because Archer is right. He can't hurt anyone else now, including children. And he was given a dignified appropriate burial, even—something so many people had taken from them. And that is how it should be, I think. We gave him more honor than he gave us, but we removed his ability to do more harm. And that feels like a small Amen.

Amanda | 10:24 AM

Yes. 100%. I can't help but feel conflicted as well. I'm glad that Jack is still too young to understand. I just wish I could understand it myself.

On another note- there needs to be a book of Archer-isms. That boy is so wise beyond his years it's insane. What a gift he is.

Stephanie | 10:25 AM

Thank you for this. You put words to some of the uneasiness I am feeling this morning.

kristinsfourkids | 10:27 AM

I love this. My 3 littles are too young to understand, but I can bet that my 10 year old will come home today and ask me about all of this, as her reading teacher talks about current events. I've yet to talk to her about 9/11; she was just 8 months old at the time, and even now, it's not anything that I can EXPLAIN to her because I still have no real explanations for 9/11 at all.

Kim T | 10:30 AM

I totally agree. Complicated. Hard time reconciling my feelings about it too.
I don't believe in the death penalty either.

Ali | 10:31 AM

This is exactly how I feel, but you put it much better than I ever could have.

Dinner Party Central | 10:34 AM

I am happy he is dead, and that thought is not one I would ever have. Not one I ever wished to have. And that thought scares me a little. I am not celebrating his death, in fact it kind of disturbs me that people are celebrating death. On NPR this morning, there was a college student from New York city, brought to tears, because he felt like this meant we never gave up on those who lost their lives. And this was a time to celebrate them. And to celebrate the end of a period where a horrible, mean, ill-informed spec of a human had any control over anything.

Ashley | 10:34 AM

Archer is wise beyond his years. Also thank you for posting about this. I read my regular blog roll and not a one mentioned the news from last night. Conflicting as it is, you were right it is historic. And it's nice to know that all the blogs I read aren't just about fluff - Thanks for keeping it real!

Anonymous | 10:35 AM

Agreed. It just doesn't feel right to celebrate someone's death. We can celebrate the lives that were lost or the intelligence and military efforts put into the project...but seeing people draping big American flags on their cars and screaming elatedly about death? That makes me uneasy.

Jen | 10:35 AM

Such a perfect post today. This is complicated. I just wrote up how I'd picked today (of all days) to emerge from a quasi self-imposed blackout and this is what I come back to. All of the major news stories are a bit overwhelming on their own (tornado/mass casualities/Bin Laden) and put together, they're mind-blowing. I don't even know where to begin with processing. Part of me rejoices for the troops who are fighting (my stepson-in-law included), part of me is sad because this was some mother's son, part of me cannot bring myself to rejoice over any death, and the rest of me is just muddled. I think it is okay to be stuck in this gray area. As long as we agree to keep thinking, pondering, wondering, and learning. Oh...and questioning. That is the most important.

Blair@HeirtoBlair | 10:37 AM

Archer said everything that is in my heart & mind today.

Smmidge | 10:37 AM

I felt so alone last night dealing with the same emotions you described. Thank you for articulating the complexity. It's all true.

Allison the Meep | 10:39 AM

Such an old, wise soul he is. I wish world leaders had the mind of Archer.

supertiff | 10:40 AM

thank you.

Ashley Austrew | 10:42 AM

Well said. And I've commented this a million times, but I'll write it a million more: you are raising quite the young man. Archer blows my mind. I know he is going to do great things in this world.

Anonymous | 10:46 AM

More than relief, I think people are celebrating because they see this as revenge ("justice"). I don't think killing him saves lives because there are others who will do the similar things in the future. I am not excited because they might get back at us, it doesn't fix the damage, and it doesn't change the beliefs behind such attacks like on 9/11 and more to come. It is just a boost to American pride...for now.

As someone who didn't grow up with good parents, I knew the feelings of revenge at this age. Archer is lucky (thanks to you) not to be familiar with hard thoughts.

Martini Mom | 10:46 AM

Exactly. I had an equally complicated, conflicted conversation with my son last night.

JBirch22 | 10:47 AM

I absolutely love the method you use to discuss and explain things to your children. It's great how you treat them like intelligent human beings instead of glass ornaments that must be protected from everything real & difficult in the world.

I'm amazed at how mature and profound Archer's observations are... he really is like a little sage.

Love :)

Armonia | 10:55 AM

After reading all comments and your post I am just glad to say that I agree with you Rebecca, I am also relieved and happy for the victims family. I truly hope that this is he start for peace. I am nervous though for what the death of this man might bring to our future if someone decides for vengeance

Barb @ getupandplay | 11:03 AM

Pretty sage, that kid of yours.

Sarah | 11:04 AM

I love the philosophical power of children.

Steph | 11:04 AM

I totally agree with you. I remember when Saddam Hussein was hanged and it was videoed and broadcast, I felt so sick to my stomach, that no matter what a person does how can another decide to take that life away, and now, how can people be cheering about it? Perhaps death is better than a lifetime of confinement, I don't know... But (especially as I'm not American) to hear people so celebratory about a person's death doesn't really make sense to me. And besides, he's one person in a whole system of hate so what's it really going to achieve? I like what you said about us all being wrong in politics - it's very easy to be glib when generalising in this way but this rang very true for me - we never really know what goes on. Luckily for now my two year old is too young to have to address this with her. But the time will come...

Tori | 11:06 AM

Thank you for writing this. I've felt so conflicted today and thought maybe I was alone. We celebrate our relief. Our sense of peace. I can't celebrate death. It's just not in me.

Molly | 11:10 AM

Just to complicate things further...the 9/11 story is awkward to tell, but there's also the story of the on-going Iraq and Afghan wars. This has to be told too, of the violence and destruction (and terrorist-creating) and our own army is doing, and creating shattered lives for young veterans for whom the army is the best or only career choice. In honor of Tim Hetherington I watched Restrepo the other night...these wars are terrible. I'm hoping for peace, real peace, not just in people's hearts, but actually putting guns and drones and armed helicopters down and focusing on money for schools and cows and training midwives instead. Let this be an excuse to do so. If anything, an excuse, to say the troops are coming home.

Margaret | 11:13 AM

You are so right, this is just complicated. For me it's not because I'm a pacifist, but because I'm a Christian who witnessed 9/11. On the one hand I am relieved, like Archer, that this man has been stopped. On the other, I know that this is not a declarative end to anything. The hatred that brought down the WTC is still alive and well, in the hearts of his many followers and even within Americans (though it is directed in different places).

So I can't rejoice at this man's death because it's just one man in a world of hatred. I can only be grateful that my faith tells me that God is above this, that He has His plan for how evil will one day be finished. (I know you don't agree, but for what it's worth this is my take.)

The complicated feelings say a lot about how we react to death, even the death of a violent man. I wish more people allowed the complexity to come forward.

MB | 11:13 AM

Thank you so much for this. I really needed to hear what you said. My brother is a Navy SEAL and I love him and I'm so proud of him but it's always been difficult for me to know how to feel about what his job entails. It helps to remember that it's OK to feel conflicted and that sometimes killing is OK and that every story has it's many sides. My brother is warrior as well as a very caring person. Now when I get the chance to talk to him, I'll have some perspective on what I've been mulling over and maybe I'll find the words to fuel a meaningful conversation -- which is what it's all about.

Leslie | 11:14 AM

You are raising an incredible and insightful little boy. When you write about the things he says on such significant topics as this, it always floors me. I wish I could be as clear minded and spoken as him. Thank you for sharing your stories. I have been reading for a couple of years now and never tire of your site. Never. I wish you peace as well.

Sarah | 11:17 AM

thanks for this Rebecca! I actually never thought of talking about this with my 10 yr old, he was 6 mths when 911 happened. I did save most of the newspaper from that time though and recently came across them in storage so we had a long chat about evil and terrorists .. lot's of questions. I'm a little conflicted about how to discuss this, to be honest. Yes, Osama was evil. Yes, humanity if safer now that he is dead. Should there be celebration, no, I think that is going too far. But then again, I didn't lose a loved one in the twin towers, or on an airplane. Thanks for giving us the perspective from your very clever by - how old is Archer? - I will be sure to talk about this in some format with my grade 4 boy when he gets off the bus today - I wonder if they talked about it at school?

Cynthia | 11:18 AM

I totally agree with you. Isn't the tao saying something like, "A true warrior never rejoices in the killing of his enemy"? Thanks for making me feel like I'm not in the minority on this.

ameliawalton.com | 11:26 AM

Thank you for writing about this. I also posted about this today and was so surprised this morning by the relief that I felt, but also by the sadness that I feel about the celebrating, but also about the sadness/empathy that I'm feeling for people that are saying, "The man that murdered my husband/wife/child/sibling can never hurt another person again, he is dead." I can't shake the feeling that hate begets hate, but similarly can't stop thinking that there was a collective sigh heard round the world. I hope that we are healing. I hope that we are moving forward.

mommymae | 11:35 AM

my twins came out of bed last night for something or another & saw me watching the president giving his speech. when i paused it, "osama bin laden dead" was emblazoned across the screen's bottom. they asked who he was & i had a bit of a go at talking to them about 9/11 (when they were in mah belleh) and terrorists. i'm not sure if i said what they needed to hear, but i have to say it was difficult since i, too, am a pacifist & have a very hard time with the celebrations and the fuckyeahamericafuckinrulezzz that is all over the place. i'd say you're ding it right by archer's reaction. now can he come to my house & talk to the girls about it?

-Maria- | 11:36 AM

oh wow, what a beautiful post. i was feeling similar feelings going through the news this morning- really nice to read this perspective from someone who shares a similar belief. And wow, love Archer's wisdom- maybe we need to go to the children more when we're feeling conflicted about this stuff-

fromaggi | 11:38 AM

That son of yours is infinetly wise. You articulated something similar to what I've been feeling since I heard the news, and I'm finding a lot of comfort in Archer's words.

Anna | 11:49 AM

Thanks for writing this. In Canada, I think the response has been more muted, not that we're sad to see him go, exactly, but we don't have the death penalty at all, so there's no eye for an eye expected. Anyway, every death is sobering, as you say. I felt sick when Saddam Hussein was hanged, even though I know he was responsible for so much destruction.

We were listening to the radio at breakfast, and they played the sound of people cheering when they heard the news. My son Owen (not yet 2) started grinning and clapping along with the crowd. My husband and I just looked at each other - you can't explain to a toddler that it's not really something to cheer about. Anyway, thanks for your post.

Heather | 11:50 AM

Your son... he is amazing. If he ever becomes a therapist I'll be the first one in line for his couch.

Heather | 11:50 AM

Thank you so much for sharing this! This whole situation is so surreal and yes, very complicated. I believe more than anything that now is a time to pray for peace.

Anonymous | 12:05 PM

"I tend to shy away from political debate here on GGC, because when it comes to politics, we're all wrong. Because we don't know the full story. We don't even know part of the full story. We know slivers of what has been reported, assumed, projected... Because we refuse to listen with open ears to the other side. Because division makes me feel carsick."
I hear what you are saying, but dont you think that the mentality that "we are all wrong" is wrong in itself? yes, we are influenced by what the contrived media has projected to us. but we also have minds of our own. minds that are affected by politics every day and more than most of us realize. don't you think we should have an opinion to share about that? don't you think that although we don't know the whole story, closing off the possibility that we will ever know the whole story is a more depressing thought? you say we refuse to listen to the other side and you dont support this mentality. so change it! you are feeding your own division by saying you shy away from expressing thought about current events related to politics. i encourage you to open up to the possibility that political discussion among friends (your readers) can be freeing and enlightening. for me, when i have a topic that seems dark and depressing (like politics can be), that is when i know more discussion needs to be had. we can learn from one another. we can listen and learn from other perspectives and we don't have to allow the twisted media to color our entire perception of political discussion/debate. give it a chance.

Ray | 12:05 PM

Amazing entry. I, too, am conflicted and confused on all this. I don't know how to feel. I wouldn't say that I'm per-say, "ambivalent" about it...but I am..."torn."

I couldn't get everyone's celebrations. It made me think of a "New Year's" celebration. It's just a bit bizarre to me.

Yes he was a very evil man. Yes that's true. But I'm not going to scream and shout from the rooftops, in jubilation, of his death.

[Especially since there were other master-minds behind 9/11, besides him. And they're STILL out there!]

I've thought about him...in a fleeting instance kind of way. Wondering when they were going to catch him. But now that he's gone: I STILL DO NOT FEEL RELEAVED. It just instills more fear of the unknown.

How AWESOME of you to be open and honest with Archer
at such a "young" age. How you can coverse with him on hard life issues (to put it mildly), even at five. He is indeed a wise old soul. I mean the things he says... "Wow!" I'm not a mother but I'm sure he teaches you a lot. As you teach him.

You're both so lucky to have one another. <3 May no tragedy ever come your ways, and may you always know a grand peace.

LJB @ crankymonkeys in london | 12:13 PM

I have been so incredibly uncomfortable seeing all this cheering and parading of the dead... it's so syrreal and grotesque. Thankfully we don't live in the States anymore so the media is perhaps a little more subdued here and so far I've been able to keep my 6-year old away from what's been going on...

Kate | 12:18 PM

Thanks for this post. I know a lot of people are celebrating and, while I'm happy bin Laden can't hurt anyone anymore, I don't want to celebrate. I can't feel happy about anyone dying, even if he's responsible for death and misery.

The only thing that I feel is a weird sense of closure. Even though the Aughts were good to me personally, the world changed for the worse politically and economically. I want the next ten years to be filled with hope instead of fear. That's the only thing I hope comes out of it.

Candace | 12:38 PM

My politics are always different from yours and your readers, respect nonetheless but I would like to say that killing this man does not really change anything. I've studied and written on Islamic terrorism and regardless of what the American media wants you to believe, these groups are organized somewhat autonomously and his death is not going to stop terrorism.

He had money and a vendetta, and he was able to use that to execute terrible plans. His money and plans killed people and that is so incredibly sad. However, his money and his plans will be taken over by someone else and more people will die. We are going to continue to send our military and drones to countries where we will kill men, women and children. Nothing changes, the cycle of violence will continue. I see no need to celebrate.

Anonymous | 12:39 PM

I kind of understand what you feel. When they said on the news last night "We are delighted to tell you Osama Bin Laden is dead." I was thought, "Wait. Hold the phone." Delighted? That's strong. First, I'm not sure how I feel about the death penalty. I did research on it that tells me the injections don't always work right and we can't be sure that it isn't painful. But, on the other hand, I don't want to belittle the suffering that that person may have caused someone. Plus the money that goes into sustaining the person. And what about pedophiles? I'm pretty sure that's a different breed of sick human being that I don't want to be anywhere near my children or anyone else's children.

But Bin Laden? He did unspeakable things. For every person that was alive and old enough to understand what was going on, 9/11 still brings about horrible feelings for me. Every year I'm still transported back to the feeling of "We are vulnerable. We can be attacked." I was only 16 when the attacks happened. I had never even thought that we, as a country, could be the victims of such unspeakable horror. And all those children that lost parents and parents that lost children? Shouldn't they get some justice? I have a hard time thinking of Bin Laden as someone's baby. I know his father is dead. But he also didn't stop and think "Those towers are full of people that *Someone* loves. Let's call this plan off." But he was still a human with a life.

I feel you on complicated.

It is also complicated because I feel with 100% certainty that we will get some kind of attack due to his death. Maybe not right away, but it will come.

I am always above amazed with Archer. I can't believe how eloquent and wise beyond his years he really is.

Candace | 12:40 PM

I would also like to add that the level of fear of another attack has risen greatly in NYC. The cops and security are in full and you cannot go anywhere without bag examination.

Kristen | 12:44 PM

Archer is such a wise young one--you're doing a great job guiding them. I absolutely agree with you. It was difficult "celebrate" the killing of another human being. Destructive as he was, it feels strange to run around our city streets with streamer and noise makers. I pray for peace and relief in the heart of those touched by 9/11. Thanks for sharing.

Kate | 12:47 PM

I felt similarly, but was having a hard time articulating it, so thank you.

I teach my son a lot of the same things - about kindness, consequence, and death. His view, at 7, of death is murky because we lost my younger son, his brother, at 13 months. To him, death is unequivocally awful, no matter the circumstance. It was difficult trying to explain to him the various complications of violence, life and death when I'm not even certain how I feel about it myself.

Tove | 12:55 PM

Rebecca, you are such a good writer, and such a good mother! When I get kids in 5 - 10 years, I will go back to your blog to get inspiration. On how to be honest, on how to let your kids be themselves, grow, observe the world, be childish and naïve and at the same time thinkers.
Your family is beautiful and I'm so excited to read about the twins.
Love from Sweden,
Tove

Stefanie | 12:58 PM

I found myself with the same conflicted thoughts - tried to put them down myself. Once again, you perfectly wrote what my heart felt but my mind couldn't express. Thank you.

Tanna | 12:59 PM

excellent post as always. Archer is so old for his years! Thanks for the open minded perspective.

Katiedidtoo | 1:01 PM

10 years ago our girls were Archers age and a little older... We banned the news from our house because it made them terrified for their lives.

In today's world I am adamantly anti-grave dancing. There are people all over the world who will see our act of vengeance as an act of war and hatred will continue to be perpetuated.

It does bring relief, but it was not an act of peace by any means.

Killing the killers makes killers of us all.

Anonymous | 1:04 PM

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I feel very much the same way, and was beginning to feel like I was unpatriotic or something. My daughter is still too young to understand, but I hope I can someday explain the complicated-ness of this world as well as you.

Anabelle Tess | 1:14 PM

This is exactly what bothered me when I watched the news... All the cheers like after a football game... I just have a hard time associating death - any death - with joy...

Kathleen | 1:17 PM

Thank you for your wise and honest words. I too have been feeling very conflicted and heavy in my heart today. My children are too young to really know anything happened (and were already in bed when we watched Obama's speech). However, this still brings up lots of feelings about the world we are all living in and how it doesn't feel right to celebrate someone's death even though he was the source of death for so many. Complicated is right. I guess we will all have to grapple with our feelings in our own way and continue to do our best to teach our children about kindness.

sara. no h. | 1:24 PM

I'm glad you posted this. I have been feeling the same today. I don't feel like violence can bring peace. And in this case it doesn't even bring peace of mind.

liz | 1:25 PM

Thank you so much for posting this. You and John Scalzi perfectly wrote my very mixed feelings today.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 1:28 PM

You're amazing, all of you. Reading your comments has given me such a different outlook on the crowd's perception as watching the news (and reading twitter did). All I kept thinking was how the rest of the world was perceiving America right now - cheering and singing and high-fiving each other like we just won a football game. Frankly, I was shocked at the reaction and felt completely alone that I was reacting so NOT that way. Thankfully, I married a man who felt the same way I did last night, a family who shares my sentiments and readers (you) who are open and compassionate and respectful, even when you disagree.

Thank you, again. Love and peace to all.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 1:36 PM

"I don't feel like violence can bring peace. And in this case it doesn't even bring peace of mind."

Thank you, Sarah. Exactly.

mlouprice | 1:53 PM

I think if they had brought him back alive and put him on trial it would have been a nightmare and would have put our country at a lot of risk. What I don't understand is all of the celebrating, flag waving and jubilation over the death of someone, even though he was a horrible person. It made me queasy. It made us look small and cruel.

SJ | 1:57 PM

Thank you for putting words to the way I feel. It is so complicated.

Anonymous | 2:28 PM

I think when we see the news and hear the news, we see it one way--but, the more I talk to people, or don't talk, I realize people of all political persuasions feel conflicted and scared and apprehensive...aren't we all, always, hoping for relief and peace, I hope.
I hated hearing the words, and knowing my children were hearing the words, killed, kill, killed, and celebration in the same words...what conflict...
However, I was just reading some of your earlier posts, through your current post's links, and reflecting on how pregnancy and children turn our views so inward, and rightfully so...so I was glad to hear your global view.

Ashley | 2:41 PM

Thank you for this. It expresses how I feel/felt precisely.

Amanda | 2:41 PM

Beautiful. I've been feeling the same way. It's complicated. Thank you for sharing your feelings and thoughts.

Jess | 2:47 PM

my kids were in bed way before the president came on so there was no need to explain anything before I could even comprehend it myself. My 7 year old doesn't read the paper or watch the news so there's really nothing to explain. If she asks a question then I'll answer her but I'm not going to bring it up- I don't see a need.
I do believe in the death penalty and if someone ever did something to one of my kids i'd probably want to kill them myself. so i'm not sad that he's dead. i don't mind the celebrating either. maybe the other countries will know how it feels now. we watch them dance in the streets every time they do something to us. the ONLY thing that bothers me is the thought of retaliation. this is not going to go unnoticed and that is very scary to me.

Anonymous | 2:52 PM

P.S. And, and, and...can't wait to see your weekly update and hear about a celebration that isn't complicated, just pure LOVE.

Jaime | 2:54 PM

You wrote well a thing I was trying to think and I thank you for it. All I could say today, was that it's a symbol more than a victory; that it's proof that things are never resolved, wounds scar when they heal, and that the world is unjust to everyone and that's as fair as it gets.

BC | 2:55 PM

It is complicated - I come at this from a different angle I suppose. I support the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the military action we have taken to try to secure democracy and freedom throughout the world. I do so with a heavy heart and knowing that terrible losses come from that support. I wish it were not so.

I don't celebrate the death of OBL - I am glad he is gone, glad he cannot hurt others. But I won't celebrate it as something that is joyful. It's sad, disheartening and terrible that we have to make these decisions and take these actions. The only relief I get is that the alternative - no consequences for tyranny - is and always has been a much worse decision and action.

Anonymous | 3:02 PM

First of all, I think you handled your discussion with Archer very well, and as always he has amazing things to say.

But I just wanted to say that, even though it may not have seemed like it on tv, most of the people who were celebrating last night also understand how complicated the situation is. I was at the White House last night, and yes there was cheering and singing etc. But I can assure you that throughout the situation I had very serious talks with people about what this means for our country and the fact that we were not celebrating a death. I talked with many people about our memories of September 11. There were many people present who had pictures of those who died on 9/11. I'm not going to bore you with the many reasons that I felt moved to go to the White House that night, but I can assure you that it was not to celebrate killing or 'an eye for an eye' style justice. Maybe not everyone who was there would agree with this, but I can assure you that the experience of actually being there is not how it came across on tv.

julia @ simple truths | 3:07 PM

I understand people's need for a sense of closure - but celebrating, in the streets no less...complicated indeed.

Sydney | 3:34 PM

‎"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy." - Martin Luther King, Jr

I read the above quote today. It helped me make peace with the uneasiness I feel watching people celebrate someone's assassination.

I appreciate what you're doing to raise thoughtful human beings. You and Archer are right, it's complicated. It always is.

Angelica | 3:42 PM

I loved this post. Thank you for writing it, it takes a lot of courage to say something like this, because the expected is to join the crowd. You and Archer said what I wanted to say but didn't know how. You have a very special son, I know you know that, but it's worth mentioning.

Amandacita | 3:57 PM

”I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr

Cam - Bibs & Baubles | 4:07 PM

I couldn't agree with you more on this. Last night I had a feeling of happiness immediately followed by an uneasiness. A disbelief. I don't believe in murder in any case. I just can't. So being happy was odd. I didn't really know what to feel. I went to bed last night and prayed and gave thanks that last night I didn't have to explain what was going on to my son. (He's only 1)I wouldn't know how.

Amy | 4:23 PM

I read an article today that very eloquently articulated my feelings on this issue; I thought you might like it as well:

http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/05/02/osama_and_chants_of_usa

Whit | 5:04 PM

Funny, Atticus had a very similar response. Kids are pretty smart.

jasmine riazati | 5:13 PM

I've been in a daze today, shocked that humanity finds it acceptable to celebrate a death in such a way. But, reading your post, Archer's words, and other commentors it's confirming to see that I am not the only one bewildered by this behavior. Hopefully one day humanity can rise above reactions like this.

Kelli | 5:17 PM

I had a hard time reconciling this whole situation in my mind too. I found a quote that pretty much summed up my feelings the best:

"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that"
— Martin Luther King Jr.

Lydia | 5:18 PM

This post was possibly one of the most eloquent things I've read from you. Though, I can't say I totally agree. I love the idea of not ever wanting to harm another human being, but the reality it we live in a world where sometimes that needs to happen. I generally don't agree with the death penalty and would rarely support our troops shooting someone in the head instead of taking him captive. But. This man had made his entire life's mission to take other human lives. All kinds of human lives. His final act was to pull up his wife and use her as a human shield. It was a supreme act of cowardice that spoke to who he was at his core.

I saw the smoke streaming from the pentagon, I saw my city brought to it's knees with grief and then torn every which way with hatred we slung at each other. And yesterday I saw a nation who needed to know that one beacon of true evil had been wiped away. And it was a relief, even if it was complicated.

k.chap | 5:27 PM

thanks for saying this. it was a relief to hear someone say the same thing i was thinking and feeling.

Sydney | 5:41 PM

Amandacita and Kelli - seems we're singing from the same hymn sheet, so to speak.

Satya | 5:52 PM

Thank you , thank you for putting into words what I have been struggling with. I have actually been angry at the FB posts simplifying how we "should" feel ironically not about being patriotic but the ones that give us those memorable quotes from Gandhi and MLK. We need to acknowledge that it is complicated not assign guilt to feelings of relief.

And thank you for the wise and compassionate discussion!

Annie | 6:07 PM

Wow, Archer really helped me to understand my feelings over this. What a wise young man :)

pamela | 6:21 PM

bravo and thank you for writing this. i had the same conversation with a good friend today. it made me think of this quote. by a man whose life was about bringing peace to all people:

"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that" -Martin Luther King, Jr

Lynzie | 6:22 PM

I'm glad I don't yet have children to explain this to. When I do I will come looking for you to figure out how!

I linked to your blog tonight. I hope you don't mind. Archer just said things better than I ever could.

Meemo | 7:14 PM

So very conflicted as well. You put my exact feelings into words. Thanks!

lacy | 7:42 PM

Thank you for writing this post. When I heard the news I did not get a joyous reaction. I even asked myself, "Why did they not just capture him?" But I did not want to share my thoughts with those around me because they were all so happy. I am glad that my child is not old enough to understand because it would be so hard to explain. But I know there will be times in his life where I will have to explain things I don't want to. I think your honesty is an amazing trait as a parent. Again, thank you.

Amanda | 8:10 PM

Thank you. I mean, as always I love what you write. But thank you so much, two glasses of wine at the end of a really shitty day, you have given me perspective and humbled me. And it was JUST what I needed.

karen | 8:34 PM

"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."-Martin Luther King, Jr

Alexandria | 9:01 PM

‎"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that"
--Martin Luther King, Jr

Bridget | 11:55 PM

If I have children, I want them to be able to believe the footage that is presented to them by their government. I suppose this is one reason I'm getting my master's degree in journalism. However, as I sit here relating to Archer's wise, wise words, I wonder if we're not all being duped by a president I voted for. That is the most complicated feeling of all.

Katherine | 1:16 AM

Thank you for this post; I was nothing short of relieved to read it (and the comments) and realise that I was not alone yesterday in feeling very uncomfortable with the celebratory atmosphere I was witnessing on the news and in friends' FB status updates etc. I could not help but feel rather stunned that (what seemed to be) the whole world was cheering the death of a man, however evil he was. Some people were even sending ecards. I certainly don't condone his actions and most definitely believe that he should have been tried and punished but I don't believe in this, how it has happened. I wondered if I was odd for feeling this way, and then when I read this post, I finally exhaled. Thank you, again.

Cara | 1:49 AM

Very well put... thought you might like my favorite quote concerning the situation:
"I mourn the loss of thousands of previous lives, but will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate mulitplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darknes: only light can. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can." - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Ciara | 3:58 AM

I'm so glad you posted this. I was beginning to think that I am the only person who is not excited for his death. All I can think is how this is now going to affect us. Will this bring on more war? And is it not wrong to celebrate someone's death? By murder? It is a very very complicated situation and I'm so happy to find that I am not alone in my feelings on this.

Your children are so lucky to have such a great mom. Archer is a very wise, young boy!!

Jess | 5:05 AM

All I will say is that the killing of Osama Bin Laden may make American's feel "relieved" or "happy" but this war will continue until our children are young adults and perhaps even longer. Eye for an eye and revenge aside, there's still a war going on in Afghanistan and there are still the bodies of young American soldiers being brought back in bags. A victory perhaps in the eyes of people directly affected by 9/11 but for the rest of the world this story is nowhere near finished. Osama has many supporters and Al Qaida is still a threat. The leader is dead, but I will guarantee you his supporters are still vehemently organizing themselves to fight. A sad view I know, but a realistic one. Personally I can't understand the cheering and clapping, death can NEVER be applauded, whether it's Hitler or Bin Laden, by cheering and clapping I find it difficult to see the difference between "us" and "them"

Isabelle | 5:09 AM

Rebecca I m really glad you chose to express this view today I came here wondering if you would as I sooo wanted you to say something like this(but you said it even better!).Because I have never been to America I tend to judge from what I see on the tv and being french we tend to judge americans too harshly sometimes but your blog is restauring the balance everytime and you and Hal and your children and readers make me see your America and you make it a better place.

Amanda M | 7:27 AM

You are so great at talking to your kids honestly and clearly. Thanks for sharing this conversation. It is the same way I have been feeling, and Archer puts it into words very well :)

boosmom10 | 8:07 AM

I think it took Archer a little longer to talk than most children because he is so profound. He always blows me away with his remarks to you. What a intelligent young man. He is also a very caring and loving young man.

You have been richly blessed!

doahleigh | 9:41 AM

Your son is truly amazing. How old is he? 60?

Anonymous | 10:39 AM

Another thing about this is that they are saying the special soldiers who killed OBL are great, strong, courageous heroes, the best of the best, deserving of the highest respect, and America is very proud of them. How do you explain that to a kid, and that this is a life of service to others?

I'm uncomfortable to talk about this in real life because there's a stigma attached to "not supporting" the troops. People tell you that you're ungrateful for their service and you'd wish they were there to stop the enemy if they were there firing at your kids. When people say they support the troops but not the war, I think they are just saying that because of the stigma. You can't truly support the troops if you don't support what they're fighting for.

Becka Robinson | 10:41 AM

He's such a little sage.

I don't think there is anything wrong with Americans being happy. This was a long time coming and so many people lost love ones in this war and I'm sure the closure is a huge relief for them.

I don't think celebrating murder is necessarily a good thing but I do think that people celebrating their relief is fine. It's like there was an air of slavery over the people. America was being oppressed by terror and now that has lifted for a lot of people, it only makes sense that they would rejoice.

With a man like that there was no other way to stop him from doing those bad things. War is a part of society. And hard decisions have to be made.

It's a strange thing, still.

Anonymous | 1:27 PM

Your post is somewhat of a relief for me. I, too, was struggling with how the children should be exposed to this situation. I have a five year old son who is somewhat beyond his years. My in-laws take care of him (taking him to and from school) while my husband and I work. My mother-in-law and I disagreed on his exposure to the news (I was against it for the same reasons you were concerned and she thought he should know). I worried that he would be exposed to it at school so contacted his teacher. I was embarassed to speak my opinion around my peers at work while they discussed the news. It's nice to know that I'm not the "odd one out" and that there are many parents that struggle to keep our children innocent but educated. Thank you! Your children are lucky to have you.

Katie | 6:47 AM

This is so beautifully put. I feel the same conflicting feelings. I refuse to celebrate and rejoice in death. Your son is so bright. You are blessed to guide him through.

Anonymous | 7:04 PM

Rebecca, thank you for re-posting this entry... I give thanks that there are people in the world like you, who question the killing and long for endless compassion.

Thank you, so.

Karen