"They killed Osama bin Laden, yesterday."
I sat there with my mouth gaping open so long that my eggs got cold, and my jaw now aches a little.
Having worked in the news business before becoming a stay-home Mom, I have a personal connection to these stories. In fact, a CNN colleague who came to my baby shower had actually interviewed Osama bin Laden. In college, I studied bin Laden, when he was still just a rising star, a phenomenal character with great appeal and influence on the younger generation. I remember conversations in class where we all wondered just what this man was capable of, and why few people seemed alarmed by things he had written.
As a journalist, I used to wake up every day and make it my business to know how many bombs were dropped in Iraq, how many people were killed in combat, how many days we'd been at war. I still remember the day that President Bush declared the "war on terror". I was standing in the weight room of my local gym. All of the TVs were on. Everyone nodded their heads in unison. Yes, Hussein must pay for this....say WHAT? I felt like I was watching the world in slow motion. I didn't like what I was seeing. But there didn't seem to be any way to wake up from this strange dream.
I have that same feeling today. I feel agitated. I feel irritated. I feel bothered. I feel the same way that I felt when I returned to DC for a second time. The first time I worked there was pre-September 11th. That was a time of scandal, but it was child's play compared to post-9-11. When I returned to work in DC, it was the first anniversary of 9-11. My co-workers, who I had known in 1999 as very laid back, sarcastic, happy-go-lucky individuals, were visibly shaken. Even a year later, it was like the horror had returned to inflict a second wave of damage. I remember that I covered a press conference updating the public on the 9-11 Pentagon survivors. They were badly burned, and doctors outlined the many surgeries they had undergone and what medical miracles were performed to get them to look...like....this. Some of their wives and children were present. It was a quiet press conference.
On the way out of that presser, my cameraman, a good old buddy of mine, was visibly shaken. He was trembling in the elevator as he caught me up on what it was like that day for all of us fellow journalists. I often talk about what a privilege it is to be a journalist. We get to see and hear things that no one else will EVER see and hear. But the flip side of this privilege is that many times, we get to see and hear things that no one else would ever want to see and hear. The effect can be traumatic.
There was fear in the air during that entire week. There was a heaviness that I could not attribute solely to the early-autumn DC heatwave.
I feel a similar heaviness today. It feel sorrow for everyone who has died at the hands of terrorists, and as a result of the world's efforts to combat terror.
I also feel guilt. This weekend, I went to Yoga for Congo, and it was a great event. The money raised went to help Women for Women International, which benefits women in the Congo who are refugees of war that resulted from the greed and violence of men like Saddam Hussein. In her autobiography, the founder of Women for Women International, opens up about her connection to Saddam. Her father was his personal pilot for years, and she was taught to call him "uncle". She speaks of the guilt she feels for her connection to him.
I feel that guilt too today, because in a way much of the good fortune I have experienced in my career was connected to these great and terrible men. Surely there would have been other stories to cover, had these gross tragedies not occurred, but these are the stories that I covered. This was my world to own. And in a way, I benefited from their evil choices.
It makes my skin crawl to write those words. But it's how I feel today. I feel ashamed of war. I feel saddened by what evil choices are made in the world that cause war.
With that said, I realize that in life there is a time to fight, and there are certain things worth fighting for. I pray that the leaders of the countries of the world, and the regular citizens like you and me will have the wisdom to know when that time is and how to go about doing it.
Personally, I choose to play my part in the battle in my own home, raising up a righteous generation of children who will be good citizens of the world, who will have compassion and charity as their guiding principles, and who will stand for truth in a world that is, more often than not, unable to agree on what is up and what is down. I hope that my contribution will be enough.
I watched "The Best Years of Our Lives" on Netflix last week, and was completely blown away by the movie. It chronicles three men returning from WWII. One part is played by a real-life veteran who has lost both hands in the war. This scene in particular is now one of my favorite movie scenes of all-time. (Click here to see it.)
As I sit here in my living room, typing this post, I can hear horses hooves clip-clopping outside on the road that goes past my neighborhood. I can hear birds singing. I can hear a new house being built. The town that I call home is a very peaceful one. And I know that that peace has been hard-earned by soldiers who have left their safe places to venture out into a very dangerous world...on my behalf.
I am not sure how to end this post, just as I am not sure how the current state of world affairs will end. I only know that even as I witness the atrocities of man, so did the Savior witness this and a million times more unspeakable crimes as he paid the price for them in the Garden of Gethsemane. He witnessed all of the suffering that would befall man as a result of war. He saw it all. And so I put my trust in Him, to see us through it all as well.