Yesterday, May 2, 2011, America woke to the reality that Osama Bin Laden, the central figure in the al-Qaeda terrorism network, has been killed by American Navy Seals. What may this mean to you?
The victims of violence, justice and mourning
Since the tragedy of 911 where we witnessed the incredible force of politically-driven violence, locating Bin Laden has been a major goal of our military. While the powerful fallout of 911 drove fear deep into the citizens of our country, the impact changed the way we viewed safety, travel, world cultures, perhaps history itself.
The children young enough to have known only this last decade saw it as one with loss of many lives while we tried to recover in the wake of a national security-violation. But terrorism has, in fact, placed fear in the hearts of people all over the world. It has effectually victimized and devastated our global community.
What this may mean to you
A day like this is full of emotional processing. We have seen people all over the country gathering to celebrate this moment of justice.
I am sure there have been or will be many closer-knit gatherings of families and friends processessing what this means for them as they remember and grieve those whom they have lost. I am sure those conversations hold a sense of relief as well as intense emotions. Hopefully, for most, it may bring closure. For some families, it may reopen the deep wounds incurred from the tragedy of 911 .
The events of 911 felt surreal, similar to what feels like a victory today. The realization that after 40 minutes at a compound in Pakistan which culminated in the sudden end of Osama Bin Laden’s rule, holds a strong sense of justice but it also brings mourning for all the losses to our country and our world.
The leadership and members of al-Qaeda will probably attempt to gain revenge. However, may we also use this time as a new opportunity to envision one more defeat for terrorism, one to elicit hope for us that this form of violence may be diminished globally.
Victims of daily violence face a duality
Nothing can compensate a loved one for the loss of a family member. And while my heart goes out to each family that has been victimized, we also need to remember that as we experience this day of justice and mourning, this is the consistent experience of anyone who is or has been a victim of violence.
What we are feeling nationally and globally is a reality that individuals and families who are victims of violence face daily. A duality exists: for justice that can relieve the pain, but also for the imprinting of the loss due to violence.
This is the moment when we as a national and global community can sympathize with those who have faced such devastation.
If you know someone who has experienced a loss of a loved one due to 911, it may be a good time to give them a call, send a card. Acknowledge that even though there is a sense of justice, it cannot replace their loved one, and that in this week their loss is a recurring memory and source of grief.
For those around you who have suffered a different type of loss due to violence, this may also be a week in which the imprinting of memories of violence for them may be more private but can be just as difficult. Let’s take some time to remember them, as well, as we strive to be a community where we care about the impact of violence in our vicinities, countries and our world.
Gerry Vassar, President and CEO, Lakeside Educational Network