Everyone grieves in their own unique way and the tragic losses of September 11th, 2001 found an entire nation grieving in one way or the other. The news that Osama Bin Laden had been captured and killed raised some people’s emotions to the level of elation. There were people dancing and singing in the streets, patriotism reigned supreme and voices of those who had lost a love one in the tragedy of 9/11 could be heard on every news station.
There seemed to be a sense of closure and satisfaction. Shortly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, then Mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, was asked by the then President George W. Bush if there was anything he could do for him. Rudy Giuliani replied, “When you catch Osama Bin Laden let me kill him myself.” Even now he remembers his intense anger and his urge to retaliate. Revenge is sweet I suppose, and while the desire to exact revenge may not be our most highly evolved human attribute, it is an extremely natural and very human response to being injured.
When I learned of the news I was surprised and maybe yes, satisfied. It certainly speaks to the sense of justice in all of us. I can’t say that I was moved to dance or sing in joy but I didn’t lose someone close to me during those awful days in 2001. Had I experienced that loss directly my response might have been wholly different.
In fact, as I watched the news it struck me as odd and a bit incongruous to be celebrating as it seemed like a somewhat somber moment. For many who are still grieving it brought their loss back into clear focus and, even though many reported a great sense of relief, others were put into an emotional time capsule which transported them back to the excruciating pain of the past.
There is no one way to grieve and victims of tragedies that have occurred at the hands of another have different needs for revenge based on their experiences and their philosophical beliefs. It is important to make room for all of the various responses and avoid judgment of those who are in that position. Healing that deep of a wound requires different medicine, metaphorically speaking, for different people.
So while the celebrations continue and security across the nation is shored up keep in mind that those who were grieving nearly 10 years ago may be feeling the pain acutely at this time even as they experience a long awaited sense of closure.
"I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction."
- Clarence Darrow