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almost ten years later. (a pseudo-political op-ed. skip over as desired).

i was sixteen years old, sitting in first period world-history when news of the first plane hitting the tower came.

and i laughed.

because it was outrageous--unfathomable. and i was sixteen. and terrified. so i laughed.

the world had ended. in that moment, some version of all that i had ever known, ceased to be.

last night, the news of bin Laden's death came in. via twitter--yes, certainly this is a different world in more ways than one.

i don't own a television, but i opened up the new york times live feed in my browser and marveled that modern technology would allow me the convenience of watching the President's address. live.

and as i waited for the President Obama and his speech and some directive as to how i should be feeling, i thought:

tomorrow, i might wake up, and it might be a new world all over again. and that might not be a good thing.

what will the aftermath bring? what repercussions await us here?

am i glad that a man pumping so much pure hatred into the world is gone? of course. is there a sense of sweet relief? i think so--maybe just a little.

truth be told, i don't know as much as i should--about any of this. about the politics or the conflict or why some decisions are made and others are not.

i appreciated Obama emphasizing that we are not at war with Islam, that Osama was not a Muslim leader.

however, it was the following that unsettled me:

and on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al-Qaida's terror: justice has been done. 

justice has been done.

(i'm gonna let that hang there. in the air. for a minute).

i understand the sentiment. i understand what was trying to be said.

and yet...

 an eye for an eye?

there's this line in macbeth--perhaps my favorite in all of shakespeare. macbeth murders the wife and children of macduff. and macduff is urged by another to change that grief into anger and to avenge the loss of his family. to bring about revenge on the bloody and ruthless macbeth.

and macduff turns around says: he has no children. 

and those four words, those four words say it all,

there is no equal justice.

justice has been done. 

justice has been done?

there is no. equal. justice.

it does not exist.

in the immediate wake of september 11th i remember being particularly upset by images of people around the world taking to the streets to celebrate and cheer.

let us not be those people now.

i would like nothing more than for a wave of the unity that overtook this country following that fateful day in september to return. but let us not be those people cheering in the streets. let us not be shortsighted. let us not lose sight. let it not be one more death that incites that within us.

let us quietly bow our heads, give thanks, and go about working for change and unity, as opposed to assuming it is our right. let us, as americans, lead by example. let us practice that too-often-under-utilized wonder-drug, humility.

(please do note, these are my opinions. we are all entitled to our own. keep that in mind.)


Stephen said...

Meg, perfect post and I agree with you 100%. It unsettles me too. But your articulation nailed it, sweetheart. love to you.

Vera Elisabeth said...

I couldn't agree more.

magdalena viktoria said...

we don't know yet what this means, but I understand how so many people feel closure because of this death.

Shalyn said...

Hi! New follower from Jenni's post today. You took the words right out of my mouth dear...I completely relate with you on your opinion. I feel very lopsided with this whole "celebration". I'm happy for those who needed closure, but I can't help but fear what's next.

Nice to meet you :)


Summer Athena said...

so eloquently written, dear. you summed up some of the thoughts that have been swirling around my head.

I suppose people are seeing this as a celebration bc Bin Laden was a murderer of Americans and Muslims.

However, I don't believe in cheering and celebrating. I believe people can feel things inside without having to outwardly express them.

Does that make sense?

Felicia said...

Your words hit the mark perfectly. It is revenge; Obama just could not say that out-right in his speech. And you are right in that humility is needed.

It feels very surreal to me to hear that he is dead. I realized that for about half my life I've been hearing about him in the media.

Alex said...

Amen. Perfect.

Jenni Austria Germany said...

my "favorite part of this post" changed with each paragraph i read.

i think it's currently:

"in the immediate wake of september 11th i remember being particularly upset by images of people around the world taking to the streets to celebrate and cheer.

let us not be those people now."

i thought of that too as i saw pictures of people clad in american flags dancing in the streets until morning. part of me wants to make light of it and move on and part of me fears the aftermath as well.

i like this humility suggestion.....if only more people would catch on to that.

chels.e. said...

well said. thank you for sharing and reminding us all to continue to work for peace.

becky said...

I wrote such a long, long comment to this just now---then Blogger got rid of it in a muddle of failed password attempts. I want to re-create it as best I can.

You're right---or at least I agree with you.

I have been trying all morning to make sense of this thing---because when my mother told me this morning (and it was the first thing she said to me), I thought "well, it isn't going to make a jot of difference" because I don't believe it will---not in terms of global terrorism or threats or peace and I realise that is quite a pessimistic statement to make. But it is a moment of closure and it is a moment of beauty in that one evil has been removed from this world---this world so taut with pressure and ills. Yet I am not convinced I like the way it was carried out or the way in which it has invoked dancing and cheering and such outwardly brash celebration. We do not need to be loud about it---or confrontational---or arrogant. We need quiet reflection about what this means and more than that---more than that we need humility. You are so very right about that.

I have to say, though, I loved Obama's speech. Always a fan of his speeches---probably one of my favourite speakers, it has to be said---because they are so perfectly paced and eloquent and beautifully evocative. The nod to Islam was so greatly needed because I think too often that is forgotten---the difference between Islam as a religion and extremism. They are not the same thing and that misconception breeds those ill prejudices. I have always liked that about Obama---the need he has to nod to reference other sacred texts beside the Bible and to pledge allegiance and community to all faiths. I think that is a very good thing indeed---something that is too often missed.

I am sorry this comment is so long---I suppose I wanted to return the favour of sharing thought and opinion. Such debate about important matters is vital in this world---something I find missed out in a lot of places.

P.S---Thank-you for your comment on my blog the other day. It raised such a smile. And it, too, was one of the nicest things I've heard. x

aukergirl said...

So true, what a very refreshing post:)

nicole addison said...

i completely agree with you, very well said. i can see however how everyone got caught up in the mayhem, i admit i ddi for a little. until someone pointed out exactly what you did.. the scenes from around the world when people were rejoicing after we had been bombed. im scared for everyone who will lose lives in the next couple of months, years even. and although their head is now dead, it's no question that they knew this eventually would happen and that they have a back up plan... or a counterattack. needless to say be careful in nyc. i know all of us are at risk, but still. prayers for you as well as america.

Jennifer Rod said...

well said!
i too was a little unsettled with all the hate and words blooming in my newsfeed last night. i thought i was the only one feeling an unlikely need to post such comments or party away... thank you for your opinion.

The Lewicutt's est 2006 said...

The first line of my post regarding his death was something similar to this.

I don't want to be that person. Rejoicing his death feels wrong. I'm glad he's no longer here, the world is a safer place without him. We're not happy he's gone because we're vengeful, we're happy because we're safer... we should act accordingly. Celebrating in the streets may not convey that accurately... any may not portray us in the prettiest light.

Robby Spratt said...

Great thoughts Meg. I also was glad about the Presiden't clarification regarding Islam. You are definitely right about the justice aspect. I wonder how much comfort Bin Laden's death will bring to the families who lost loved ones. It seems very strange to me to celebrate a person's death. I was kind of bothered by some of the comments I have been hearing from people. I think I would have preferred if they could have taken him alive and put him in prison, or at least given him a trial. Either way it is a significant historical moment.

IIDA said...

Thank you for this. As a European, I've been looking at the celebrations with a wary eye. I understand the relief, of course. 9/11 was and continues to be a shared sorrow of the entire Western world, not just the US. But this joy, this celebration - it's scary. Somehow I feel we should be better than that.

Even Obama, whom I usually respect immensely, seems to go along with this notion of justice. And it's scary. Revenge does not give closure, there is no justice in revenge. It will not bring back those who passed away and it might not even lessen the pain.

Thank you for giving me a glimpse of an alternate way of reacting.

(Just for the record, I am in no way looking down on Americans for celebrating. I was also highly disappointed and ashamed by the official EU statement over this.)

miss carrie said...

Thank you so much. You restored my faith in America again - after all those disturbing images of people celebrating in front of the White House, this post was what I needed. (And this is coming from a European in America, too.)

Jessica said...

It seems you aren't alone in these thoughts. My stomach felt a little sick when I first saw the news last night and people cheering. Great writing. And I was always ashamed that I, too, laughed when I first saw the towers on the TV in world history class. But as you pointed out--we were 16.

Erin {pughs' news} said...

This is beautifully written and echoes the way I feel about the situation. Thank you.

Alisha said...

Politics aside; whether you're a red state or a blue state; we all need to ban together as ONE nation and practice humility.

Great post, my dear.

Libby said...

I semi agree with your statement. I also understand how this can help America heal to it`s fullest. It helps to be able to "quietly bow our heads, give thanks, and go about working for change and unity, as opposed to assuming it is our right. let us, as Americans, lead by example. let us practice that too-often-under-utilized wonder-drug, humility." when a chapter has been closed. Yet,is it better to turn the other check? I unclear on how I think/feel about that. That`s what I was raised to believe.
I think people had the need to celebrate because it was out of the blue.A pure surprise, we have wanted to celebrate and bring him forth for a decade.We have also been in such a rut as a country. It can in some way help bring us together. This is great for Obama.

Jac said...

The same thoughts have been bouncing around my head. A friend was at Ground Zero last night live tweeting what he saw - people chanting, vandalizing, hanging off of street signs - and I couldn't help but think of the footage we saw after 9/11 of crowds in the Middle East rejoicing. It's frightening.

Daina @ New York State of Mind said...

I thought the same thing this morning when I woke up and heard the news. As I watched the images of New Yorkers celebrating on the streets of Times Square proudly waving our flag, I thought about the images of people from around the world burning that same flag ten years ago. It is a very strange feeling, to celebrate someone's death in such a way. That being said, it is also hard to really wrap my mind around that man leading so many others to hurt us with the acts of 9-11. I having a feeling of relief, and am yet so unsettled. It is all very strange to me, especially living here in the city. Your words captured it perfectly.

On another note, thank you so much for your nice comment and for following my blog. It has been so fun to follow yours and read your posts since discovering it a few weeks ago! Keep up the amazing work!

Lola said...

Thank you, thank you. I've been so unsettled by what I've seen happening and I was truly at a loss for exactly why. You have so eloquently written what I couldn't quite get my heart around the last few hours.

syd said...

beautifully written. it is a new world now indeed - yet how much we can learn from the old world. thank you for sharing Shakespeare :) how i love that man.

jenny said...

oh goodness... you are so full of wisdom and love. Geeze... wished we lived closer. We could go to a coffee shop and talk. And I think I could sit there and listen to you all day. Thank you. You put into words the things i was feeling as i sat and watched the news.

s a m said...

Meg, thanks for writing this and being brave enough to step outside the usual content. It's always so precarious to write something political - but it's so important. It makes this medium the most meaningful!

You captured my sentiment today so fully. "let us, as americans, lead by example. let us practice that too-often-under-utilized wonder-drug, humility."

Obama's speech (as always) gave me chills. I was grateful for his tact, for his assurance that we are not at war with Islam. And, although there was a tone of victory, he never chanted Mission Accomplished. As he said "let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. I know that it has, at times, frayed."

The Mister and The Missus said...


Ana* said...

I don't know much about politics, but I do agree with you on the thought that justice can't and will never be made equally. I have a close friend who died on the 9/11 attacks, her family was devastated and her children don't seem like they have recovered (10 years later).

I think justice has been made for them and for the families of many other victims. On the other hand Bin Laden's family is now experiencing this same sorrow many Americans experienced back then. Am happy he died? no, i don't think we should celebrate death. Will his absence make the world a safer place? I would like to think so.

Beautifully written Megan

c.e.l.i.n.a said...

My brother several tours in Iraq.
For his sake and the sake of soldiers everywhere I am glad they found Osama.

glad that this piece of the war is over.

The fight will continue.
The dancing in the street outside the White House made me sick.

the loss, the destruction, the hatred that has changed our world will not die with Bin Laden.

Hannah said...

I agree 100% and could not have said it better. When I first heard the news the first thing I thought was there were probably many lives saved in his death, but I never believe that rejoicing in someone's death makes the world a better place. No matter if he is dead, American families still have suffered, and continue to suffer. We need to find better ways to channel that suffering and anger. If anything, maybe his death will unify us once again and we can all work together with a clearer mindset.

Johanna said...

I loved this post. I also found out via Twitter, and I was quite horrified by what I read in my feed. That unrestricted joy that everybody felt, just felt wrong to me.

And it's not like it's over. To me, this death just seems like revenge.

But I live in Sweden and we're not in any war and we don't treat the soldiers we do have like any kind of heroes, so I just have a completely different view of this.

Maureen said...

I agree with this post more than I agree with anything I have seen about this topic so far. You have done a wonderful job articulating such a thoughtful response.

I almost can't go on facebook or twitter today, the reactions of my online friends is simply too disturbing. But among them, this jewel which reflects my opinion, from the Vatican:

"Faced with the death of a man, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibility of everyone before God and man, and hopes and pledges that every event is not an opportunity for a further growth of hatred, but of peace.”

Nicole Marie said...

soooo agreee!

ALFIE said...

i am for peace.

and people with intention such as bin laden should, indeed, be silenced. but his death is not a US victory in my eyes. we have spread our message of "peace" with more violence--- opening up an array of repercussions that we may never know the full extent of.

most disturbing, as you note, are the scenes from the white house yard, and ground zero--- where new years eve-esque foolery is taking place. to the world-- we must appear like a group of ignorant, drunks with a vengence.

perhaps for those most directly effected by 911, the news came as a relief--- and i understand. but as a nation-- may we support those who lost on Sept 11, 2001--and be thankful that our troops efforts are not in vain--- all the while retaining our dignity and our desire for peace.

SarahAnn said...

So glad that you wrote this. Because I too am stuck in the middle. I was washed with feelings of relief last night, then feelings of fear at what might happen now.

And then when the news cameras cut to the celebration in front of the White House, I could only feel a bit sickened that we, as a nation, were celebrating the death of someone. And I like how that feels least of all.

Shal said...

Hey Meg, I full-heartedly agree. I grew up in the Middle East and have a massive amount of love for the region and its peoples. Most people are either a fan of the West/nonchalant about it, and there is a small minority that hate the West. In some cases, they are brainwashed. In other cases, they have a valid reason (a quick example, the U.S. and the U.K. chose to not clean up their landmines in the Sahara desert post WWII... the largest demographic of those who are "cleaning them up" are bedouin children....with their bodies/limbs...lives. I've met fathers, mothers, with tears in their eyes and anguish over the unfairness of life, and I know that any powerful leader could organize them to avenge their loss. Which is partially what the Al-Qaeda were able to do with 9/11.

It broke my heart when America's response was then to go kill thousands of Iraqis, Afghanis, all in the search for Osama. And to force democracy on them. I couldn't help but ask if people didn't see the complete irony and hypocrisy in that?

Anyways, the words you have voiced are something humanity has struggled and will struggle with for ages. It is very difficult for people to accept that shit happens and revenge fixes nothing.

In fact, my deepest sadness is this... this 'War on Terror' has most definitely bred a whole group of terrorists from families/groups who would never have had terroristic tendencies before. I'm talking about a lot of widows, orphans, whose parents/husbands/family were killed 10 years ago and now they're at the perfect age to pick up a gun or strap a bomb to themselves. This war is senseless. Bush's Admin just did such a great job instilling fear in Americans and connecting the dots between Osama and Terror that people think his death is some sort of victory. I don't know how to make people realize this -- for people like Osama, being killed is the greatest honour. It does not make them scared or dissuade them. And Osama has a long line of successors who will continue in their hatred.

Courtney said...

my sentiments exactly

Toni said...

I feel much the same way. After the initial feeling of closure the next thing I thought was, uh-oh, what's going to happen now because of this.

Anonymous said...

I think "justice" was the wrong word to use. I think "revenge" is more like it. But justice? Is there such a thing?

I am relieved, too, but I also feel sorrow that these things always come to such ends. Violence is scary no matter where you stand. And to celebrate death seems strange to me.

I still wonder if we'll wake up tomorrow to a whole new world... I hope not.

Georgette said...


Thank you for being brave and true in sharing your thoughts.

A wholeheartedly agree.

I wish this was published in the New York Times. Too many are in need of enlightened like this.

Humility and Awareness.


Em & Gar said...

This was brilliant. Simple, honest, and brilliant. Thank you for the reminder: humility not hate. xo

communikate. said...


you're good.

i think you summed up so many people's feelings in such a beautiful way.

p.s. i hope to write half as well as you do someday.

ashlee said...

YES! Exactly. Thank you for putting so gracefully what my heart has been saying since the moment I heard the news last night.

carla thorup said...

spot on. exactly what i was thinking this morning, but you beautified it as you always do with words.

Carrie Rosalind said...

Amen! Thanks for saying exactly what I've been thinking but couldn't put into words yet.

L.L. said...

Thank you for putting this thought of mine into words. This morning as I was running, i was thinking about the events of yesterday and found myself thinking, "But should we be rejoicing that someone is dead?" Despite all the horrible things bin Laden did, I just can't make myself cheer about someone dying.

Cas said...

“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” -MLK Jr.


Anonymous said...

you don't know how happy it makes me to read this and some of the other comments.

sitting here in our little colony on the other side of the planet i must say that the coverage of this whole thing has shocked me.

i could never be 'happy or celebrate' that someone has been killed, and nor would i ever want my kids to feel that way. relieved possibly, but never happy. there is a big difference.

when i see images in eastern countries of fanatical, wild masses of people shooting guns in the air, burning flags & effigy's when a westerner is killed, i think to myself what a fucked up world they live in.....and then last night my tv shows me almost the same sort of thing, - but this time from the US.

....and when my kids asked me, 'what are all those people cheering about dad', i turned off the telly and said, ' i'm not sure'

Stephanie said...

I partly agree with you. Rejoicing or celebrating his death, or anyone's death, is strange and unnerving. And calling death "justice" isn't quite right to me either. But I don't think the celebration stemmed from feelings of revenge. I think the news was so shocking and unexpected that people didn't quite know how to react. I admit, I was happy when I heard about it but not for vengeful or hateful reasons. I've had friends and family fight in our two current wars and I was happy because I felt relieved. I was relieved because I felt like there may actually be an end to the violence we've been dealing with over the last 10 years. I was relieved because I felt that maybe my brother-in-law won't have to go overseas for a fourth time. I know there will likely be repercussions. I know we as a nation should rise above and proceed with quiet humility. But I also know that it's okay to feel grateful at this time. We don't need to express it by taking to the streets and celebrating but it is okay to feel it nonetheless. Because we do have a lot to be grateful for right now.
It's strange being happy that someone died but this news brings a big sigh of relief for our country. I think Mark Twain sums up my feelings best: "I have never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure."

Felicity said...

This post said pretty much exactly what I was thinking. Wow. I am not an American I'm a New Zealander so I can hardly begin to imagine what people there felt when 9/11 happened...but as a friend of mine said ‎"one shall never rejoice the death of another, as we all exist under the mercy of God".

Cara S. said...

Coming from a New Yorker through and through who remembers that sad day like it was yesterday and I remember things I can't even write about because it is too hard to comprehend (the smell..oh the smell) I appreciate and am grateful for our military and am proud to be an American today. While I am not sure I agree with your views I appreciate your words, I am also still praying for our country and our soldiers.

Madeline said...

I agree completely! Thank you for writing this, I think it's the perfect perspective that the world needs to be looking at.

The Many Colours of Happiness said...

While I am not American, I really agree with what you're saying. When Americans and Australians went to 'get justice' by heading overseas and killing thousands upon thousands of innocent people after 9/11..well I lost a little bit of faith in mankind and the idea of justice.

Emily said...

Friend, I was thinking very similar things. I didn't feel the thrill of the act as others did. Death is death, no matter what it is. And I think that justice is a certain poison that can hurts the inflictor almost as much as the inflictee. While I admit to some relief over bin Laden's death, I have this bitter aftertaste about the whole mess of war and violence.

Caz said...

"let us quietly bow our heads, give thanks, and go about working for change and unity, as opposed to assuming it is our right. let us, as americans, lead by example. let us practice that too-often-under-utilized wonder-drug, humility."

Thank you for this. As a Canadian-in-Australia I know I cannot fully understand the American experience of this event. But to me it feels wrong to be celebrating someones death. To be dancing in the streets and chanting "USA USA USA" as so many are being shown on the news. It makes me feel uncomfortable and somewhat embarrassed for you (collective American's not you personally.)

I hope in the coming days America is portrayed in the way you have wanted so the rest of the world knows you can be so much more than a bunch of drunk idiots cheering for someones death.

elventryst said...

Meg, Meg, Meg, I ALWAYS appreciate your quiet wisdom and insight. Wise beyond your years, that's what I would say!

Steph said...

Thank you so much for your post. You put words to much of what I was thinking and feeling today. I greatly appreciate your wise words.

CraftieTheatreGirlSarah said...

I was thinking the SAME exact thing. I'm not a very political person so I'm not entirely in the know about such things, but it does seem very Hummurabi's Code.
Thank you for being brave enough to share your opinion.

Sara said...

I couldn't agree more. I just wrote my post about all of this. I had so much more to say, but I kept it simple. "Somber relief" is the way to handle this, not celebration.

Well Nice Chels said...

Thank you for sharing this. I completely agree. It truly saddened me to see some of our country taking the low road. I have seen a pretty amazing group of people though who have taken the same view as you and it gives me hope.

Your words are always so great!

Anonymous said...

i am a regular reader of your blog (hello!)and this post moved me to tears. i am not an American but i was relieved to hear that osama had been killed. it just seemed like the world was now a little safer.. although there are plenty of reports that keep me sombre by reminding me that plenty of others are clamouring to take his place. but, still, i felt relief and i was truly thankful because it seemed an important step in the right direction and a real, tangible victory. but the celebrations that followed seemed so wrong. because the people celebrating were celebrating a man's death. and death is death, it is pain and suffering and someone's end and must always be treated with respect, even if it is your enemy who has died.

so thank you for your post because it captured my sentiments exactly and made me feel a lot better, that i wasn't alone in feeling the way i do.

Emily Lou said...

thank you for giving me the courage to publish my own opinions on the event. i wasn't sure that i wanted to share at first, but your blog post inspired me to take that leap of courage. your writing is beautiful, as are you. :)

Anonymous said...

This was gracefully and beautifully written. I agree 110%

Alison said...

Thanks for posting this Meg, i have been struggling with the same sentiments, and I feel the same way. I also remember those startling images of people rejoicing in the street 10 years ago, and I could never do that, not even for an enemy. Here is a quote someone sent me,
"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that" - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Maddy said...

New reader here and I was moved by your post! So very well said!

Betsey said...

love this post so much meg, completely agree. there really is no justice possible.

katie said...

perfectly [and eloquently] stated.

Rhianne said...

This is so beautifully written Meg and I agree, there is no equal justice for what happened... how can there be?

I haven't been able to read a lot about this - I was almost prepared for the 10th anniversary but this seems to have brought it all forward so much faster. I'm not American but my 16th birthday was Spet 11th and it shook me right down to my core and still does every year.

Harley said...

I couldn't agree more. You have a way with words that really has the ability to touch people. Thanks,


Tiffany said...

This is right on. I wrote a blog about it yesterday, but I didn't so as good as capturing the idea as you did. Beautifully written. Thanks for sharing!


Shell said...

completly agree with you Meg, i had to share this post with my sister because we too felt this way, you said everything we were feeling and thinking, beautiful words, you moved me, the last part perfect! love love love this post!

Stephanie said...

My. thoughts. exactly. Thank you for putting that out there.

The Childlike Empress said...

when i read peoples cheers on facebook status's and what-not my thoughts turned exactly to that moment of people cheering in the streets on September 11th -

the world is so vast and we know so little, that sometimes we get lost in our little corner of it.

i truly hope that someone up there has better judgement that we can ever have.

yunita said...

If two sides still thinks justice is an eye for an eye.

Then it will never be over.

I've seen a few terrorist being captured and killed in my country, Indonesia. I've seen misunderstood in their faces, what they think is right is wrong for all of us. They believe in their faith too much, they forgot whats true and become a demons among people.

But why people celebrate their dead? it only means we failed to put humanity first among vengeance and hatred.

-From a country that being named Terrorism Havens-