Friday, May 6, 2011

What a Difference a Week Makes

Ask anyone who knows me...they’ll say I’m a pretty positive person. I believe in the innate goodness of most people, I believe that we are resilient and able to deal with and rise above most of the bad things that happen to us, whether they be natural disasters, serious illnesses, untimely deaths or terrorist attacks. But since the Sunday night jolt of Breaking News burst upon us, I have had some strangely mixed feelings. Am I glad Osama bin Laden no longer menaces the planet? Of course. Am I proud of the incredibly brave men who risked so much to make it happen? Without a doubt. And as an ardent Barack Obama supporter, I am glad that his decisiveness led this mission to achieve its goals so well. It does feel like justice.

Now many are speculating about the national response, the mood of celebration that seized some as the news broke. What the news did for me was to bring up the unimaginable horror of that day nearly ten years ago when the towers fell, the Pentagon burned and a few brave men charged the cockpit to prevent an even worse calamity. When those images appear on TV, it seems like it happened yesterday. And nothing will ever change that or bring back the dear souls whose deaths were of the most terrible sort. I just can’t rise above those images to celebrate.

We are better off without Osama bin Laden but probably not much safer. Safety is not one of life’s guarantees, that much seems clear, so there may rise another name, another threat whose mission in life is the destruction of all things American. Life is risky, sometimes dangerous, and always, always fragile. All we can do is cling to the sacred moment, the NOW, which is all that we have. I won’t live in fear. Not of anything. There is too much for which I am grateful, too many precious people to love and too few hours in the day to spend them afraid of what might happen.

Last week I, and millions of others around the planet, had a brief fascination with the Royal Wedding. How distant that event seems now, along with the silliness over birth certificates and any number of distractions that keep us from confronting grave issues. The seriousness of life came home clearly this week, but it did illustrate the delicate equilibrium of life with ample servings of both good and evil.

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