Monday, May 2, 2011

The Weight He Bears

Osama Bin Laden is dead, executed in a Navy Seal operation inside his walled in estate in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where U.S. intelligence had tracked him. At close to midnight last night, President Barack Obama was steely eyed as he announced the successful end of a ten-year-long manhunt. His speech was meticulous and carefully worded, he took responsibility, there was no chest-thumping. Watching him, I thought I could discern the toll it took to order a man's death, even a bad man, a murderer of innocents. I have no doubt or equivocation that Obama did what he had to do in finding and neutralizing bin Laden, but I couldn't help wondering, how did he explain it to his daughters?


Tonight, listening to the news of how the top secret raid unfolded, my own daughter looked troubled. "I don't really have an alternative suggestion for what we should have done," she said, "but an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." Another friend was more pragmatic. "Do you truly believe we would have been better off not going after him?" he asked. Of course not, I said, but I can sense the tear in Obama. "Not from this," my friend insisted. "Think about sending young men and women into harm's way to fight a war against this murderer. Now that's an action that will tear the soul." It's a stunning point. There are no easy answers. "Heavy is the head that wears the crown," my mother often says. At the end of the day, I am glad Obama is our Commander-in-Chief and that he had the strategic intelligence and sheer guts to authorize this mission and bring this horrific chapter to a close.



12 comments:

  1. I would love to know as well -- it would be good to know how to explain to my own sons.

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  2. I have no idea. But I know that this man does what must be done. For some reason, he reminds me of Abraham Lincoln who accepted the cruelest responsibilities with such logic, such dignity, such a sense of what had to be done.

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  3. Honestly, I believe that taking down such an evil soul was a very simple decision for the President. The stress probably came from the very real possibility that we could have lost some of the heros who went in there to complete the mission. And that monster was not worth one more life lost. Our president knew what had to be done with the smallest possible collateral. Interestingly, I saw something very different in his eyes. I saw relief and the release of a very deep breath. The reality is that there is no second guessing the way in which terrorists should be dealt with.

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  4. I agree with Debra W. And I feel relieved. And I feel uneasy about feeling relief from his death.
    For the first time ever, ever, I cried tears of joy because of someone's death. I felt ashamed afterwards. And relieved. And happy. And sad, so sad for everyone who died, for everyone who lost someone, for how scared we all felt that day. Of how scared we've been feeling since. President Obama had no other choice. And I am proud of him. And ambivalent about my own feelings.

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  5. i feel immense sympathy for Obama and his family. i don't know how he can explain this to anyone, except pragmatist that he is, he took the responsibility to make many, many inexplicable decisions when he took the job. he is far too intelligent to take this responsibility lightly.
    personally, i deplore the sanctioned execution of any man or woman. no matter what the reason. revenge is a rat that nibbles at the soul; this is not justice. legally, as i see it, justice is (should be) an unemotional weighing of facts, an attempt to understand the values on both sides of the symbolic scale, with the intention of bringing about balance and resolution. this killing will do neither.

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  6. Elizabeth, none of this is easy. it occurs to me that our children barely recall a world in which we were not hunting this man.

    Ms Moon, i agree. he does what he must and he takes responsibility for it. i know he is far tougher than his demeanor suggests.

    Debra, you are right, I know it. Nice always to see you here. Love.

    Miss A, I am proud of him, too, but I also understand the ambivalence, Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

    Susan t, weirdly, i have already begun to imagine the movie that will be made of this. i think it is my way of putting it in a context that is more easily comprehended. thanks for sharing.

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  7. I'm glad I'm not the President.
    m.

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  8. I saw a still photo of our President watching the Osama operation unfolding. You could just see the worry and stress in his face. Your daughter is a very smart young lady.

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  9. We all have mixed feelings...slight though they may be, but he did awful things and I wonder why we pick everything apart..he did awful things...you have to pay the price for doing awful things and I am very proud that our president decided ~what I am sure was weighed very carefully in his mind~to do what had to be done at the moment that was appropriate.

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  10. Megalis Mom, always nice to see you. I saw that photo, too. I cannot imagine watching as this unfolded. I think my heart would have just stopped. The president did what he had to. I think it's okay for us to feel ambivalent about killing, but then we have that luxury. Obama did not.

    Kim, I think Obama must have the toughest job in the world, and I will vote for him again.

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  11. Oh Angella, I love how you framed this, how you got right down to family, to Obama as a man, a father. I don't for a minute think that this was an easy decision for him. I have my own mixed feelings about the execution, but I have to believe that Obama acted in the best interest of this country. And I'll bet he thought about his daughters, too.

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