“We got him”

Osama bin Laden is dead.

A lot of my friends and associates (and others) are complaining about the joyous response of many Americans to the killing of another human being. It’s a feeling I agree with. I think the correct response is solemnity and a quiet understanding that justice was done.

Having said that, I won’t condemn anyone for feeling a sense of jubilation.

Tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of people were directly affected by 9/11—meaning they had family and friends who were killed as a result of the planning and direction of this man. Many millions more empathize and recognize that their own families could easily have been killed but for the happenstance of geographical location.

Some wanted revenge (which is a petty desire; though perhaps understandable as an emotional reaction). Many others simply wanted justice—the knowledge that this crime would not go unanswered. And the assurance that this man would be unable to hurt anyone else.

Justice has now been served.

Terrorism will continue, yes. But the person most responsible for these individuals’ own personal nightmare has finally had to answer for his actions. They are relieved. A decade-long nagging weight has been lifted from their shoulders. They at last have closure, however symbolic it may be.

Would you condemn the family and friends of Sharon Tate for celebrating the sentencing of Charles Manson? Or any family who has finally seen justice done in the murder of their loved ones?

Celebration may be in poor taste. It may be irrational. It may even be dangerous. But I don’t think it is immoral.

I’ve never had anyone I cared for violently taken from me. But I can imagine it. I can imagine how I’d feel, and I imagine that my imagination can never compare to the reality. That’s why it’s hard for me chastise others in this situation for being emotional, for being indelicate, and for being honest about their feelings.

Forgiveness and reconciliation are noble virtues that should be pursued individually and collectively. But humility is also a virtue, and one that’s often overlooked when we rush to judge others.