Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ahhh, May...

... the first month for the yellow swallowtail butterflies!

And the clematis!

And the delphinium!

And the peonies and rhododendrons and roses and turtles!

And no Osama bin Laden!

All of this surprised me, but that last thing especially. I just thought he'd eventually die in secret and we'd never know exactly when or why or if.

I thought that again as recently as the week before he was killed. I mean, the guy had a $25 million bounty on his head for years and years. If someone offered to pay that much money to anyone who could lead them to YOU, how long do you think your friends and family might keep YOUR location secret?

Once you've somehow made it beyond the 5 year mark, why would someone suddenly give in? The need to cough up their next child support payment?

Anyway.... I just thought Osama would slowly fade away and become one more ghost in the back of our minds like Amelia Earhart, Jimmy Hoffa, and Bob Dole.

Now what?

Well, once I got beyond my surprise I ended up feeling... old. Maybe others felt relief or joy that justice had finally been done, but... I didn't. As I said in an entry almost 10 years ago now, those responsible for the 9/11 attacks perished in those attacks. Shifting the blame to Osama seems to me to unfairly remove the moral burden on those who actually flew the planes and furthers the discredited "I was only following orders" defense associated with the Nazis. Feeling relief at this point would seem to distract from the fact that we have yet to come up with a good way of dealing with those suicide bombers and others who are willing to sacrifice themselves in order to achieve their murderous goals. The threat of punishment just doesn't work as a means to discourage future attacks - and discouraging future attacks interests me far more than exacting vengeance for old ones.

Forces far bigger than Osama remain alive and at large - religious fanaticism first and foremost. And no elite group of Pentagon warriors will ever be able to swoop in and change that. But maybe an elite team of psychiatrists armed with fast-acting psychotropic medications might? I wish I knew....

The bottom line is that I'm left feeling old - just like the end of MASH left me feeling old, and the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the end of the Cold War, and the end of W's presidency. In each case, something that seemed destined to be around forever and ever suddenly wasn't around anymore at all, yet I still was, and... that invariably ended up making me feel ancient.

It's like still being around after the Rocky Mountains have eroded all away.

Or the Cleveland Indians have won the World Series.

And being old isn't a victimless crime.

I've never had a friend or relative killed by a terrorist - ever - but I've lost plenty of friends and relatives to old age.

An old age that has often inflicted slow, terrible torture on its victims.

And not one of those victims has ever escaped or been rescued.

So, yeah... I suppose the world is a better place without Osama in it, but... we Americans have such a silly way of thinking an individual is the Devil - the embodiment of all evil - and that if we only get rid of that person, happy days will be here again. We forget or repress the fact that evil is the result of forces largely beyond our control and not the invention of a Hitler or a Stalin or a Castro or a Noreiga or an Ayatollah Khomeini or a Saddam Hussein.

A cynic might even say that the world itself is evil and the best we can do is to somehow learn to live with that fact rather than constantly going off on crusades against the small pieces of it that we mistake for the whole.

All I know is that old age has been responsible for far more pain and suffering in my life than Osama ever was - and political leaders like Paul Ryan seem to want to throw the responsibility for fighting it entirely onto the backs of its individual victims.

It's as if the 9/11 attacks just happened and the response from Washington is to give every American a voucher that partially covers the cost of a handgun.

Thanks goodness I have all those butterflies and flowers of May to help me forget that.


  1. "It's as if the 9/11 attacks just happened and the response from Washington is to give every American a voucher that partially covers the cost of a handgun."

    As I recall, we were told to buy duct tape and plastic wrap and no subsidy was offered at all.

    The world IS evil and the best way to deal with that is to announce that God has told you how to end that evil and that oh by the way God wants everybody to send you all their money to help you accomplish that. It worked for Oral Robert. It worked for W Bush. "No no no, I meant no nude Texans."

  2. I just wrote the biggest note ever, and this *@#$!%!! ate it.

    Suffice to say... I'm GLAD Osama is gone. Al Qaeda was his devil baby. (I can remember when no one (beyond your standard hick xenophobe) was afraid of Muslims. Like you, I agree that punishment as pure deterrent has been proven vain, but I don't think this was only or even mainly about that. Granted, his death won't automatically deprogram his followers, unlike the suddenly friendly soldiers in the castle after Dorothy melted the Wicked Witch of the West. Still, he was like Al Qaeda's Uncle Sam - a pure recruitment tool and primo motivator of budding terrorists. And sadly, I think that human beings are far too easily manipulated. Yes, the terrorists and genocidists who actually end up alive after committing dreadful acts should be accountable for atrocities, but cutting off the head of the hydra is a smart thing to do, prevention-wise. It's not that threats deter them, natch, quite the opposite, in fact, vengeance-minded as they are, but they need to be motivated by master manipulators in order to commit to blow themselves up in the process of getting us, too, ya know?

    As to Paul Ryan... and Scott Walker, all the other Repressican Goobernators, plus Rush, Glenn, Newt, Grover, and who knows who else? Eventually, they'll be toast, not toasted, if the mood across the land continues. Time, for all it's wounding, is swinging its pendulum, and that this Privatize Medicare mania will likely be halted in its tracks. The thing is, am I wrong, or aren't you sort of implying that Paul Ryan is "evil" by singling him out, here? (Maybe I'm not reading this right, sorry if so.) Really, though, if we don't "defeat" him (NOT kill him, natch) and his Repressican cohorts by offering much saner and sounder ideas, how else can we stop his inhumane legislative proposals?

    Anyway, my apologies if this is poorly worded. The original note was FAR better.

  3. I would just like to mention that if you cut off the head of a hydra, two grow back.

    I thought he was probably dead already. It's a big event for people big on symbology, because it didn't really do squat. People are still oppressed, poor, mad, psychopathic and are willing to use violence to express their views. What I found to be a much bigger event is the wave of (mostly) peaceful protests that went through and are still going through the middle east. There's progress!

  4. Thanks, Minette! I *knew* I'd messed up, somewhere. I just had this word pattern in my brain that wouldn't shut up. That wasn't the only mistake, either, but I was running on fumes at that hour...