I really wanted to write a timely, profound reflection on the death of Osama bin Laden. Bloggers wise and not-so-wise have been throwing in their two cents and more over the last few days. Unfortunately I am coming a little late to the party, when everyone has already decided how to feel about it and no one needs me to tell them how to feel.
One of the first things people notice about me is my horrifying/amusing habit of saying anything that comes into my head, as soon as the thought appears. If it could be left unsaid, you can count on me to say it. Since this is such a key part of my personality, I am surprised by how ponderous I am when it comes to my writing. I don’t like to commit anything to paper until I have it all composed in my head first.
Maybe its the permanence of the written word. Maybe it’s my pride, knowing that my writing may be subjected to scrutiny, I want to be sure that I have thought out every possible implication of what I am saying, that I’ve checked every fact, that I am writing out exactly what I actually think. I don’t think I will ever be a timely blogger because, before I write, I make sure I know what I’m trying to say.
The other problem with this process is that I end up coming back and back to the same conclusions. When I think things all the way through, they take me through the same beliefs and convictions, leading to the same fundamental truths that steer me.
So if I had written that reflection on the death of bin Laden, the one the blogosphere has already deigned passé, it would have sounded a lot like all the other things I write. I would have asserted that life is always more complicated than we want it to be, and that we cling to symbols that will make it less so. I would have noted that we are never, ever safe, but that recognizing that has freed me to live without fear.
There would have been the requisite paragraph on the world’s brokenness, because all I could think of when I heard the news was that terrible disaster that brought bin Laden to our attention nearly ten years ago, and how it opened my eyes to how desperately hateful our world had become. My writing would have manifested the compassion I have tried to cultivate in my heart, since I would have to admit that I was moved to prayer for the deceased, because I see in his malice the same woeful destruction that I so mourn in the world I so dearly love.
My post would have included the timid announcement that I’m trying not to care what people think when I admit that I pray spontaneously for evil people, since I fear that admission makes me sound like a wimp or a bleeding heart. I would have proclaimed that I only get one heart, and that the stakes are too high for me to deny its best orientation just because pop culture or jingoism tell me that I should be too tough for mercy.
At that point I really would have started banging my same tired drum. This post would have been loaded with love, my favorite noun, because I believe in the end that’s what can save us from brokenness, can heal us, and can comfort us in the face of terror. I would have included the necessary caveats about the need for protection and my gratitude for living in a country that allows me freedom and stability.
I would have tried to find the perfect balance between clear-sighted pragmatism and idealistic love. It probably would have ended with the clearest summary of my spirituality: Life is hard. Love anyway.
As you can see, any post on the death of Osama bin Laden and the subsequent celebrations would have been just another rehashing of the same things I’ve been trying to say for years. Since I’m not going to write it I’ll have to be content to live it, until the next time I trot out my same tired old themes.