So the first post in a new blog, woo hoo! I blogged for many years, some years ago but took a long sabbatical. Nevertheless, here I am again.
Today I’ve used the phrase, “Imagine how…” probably a dozen or more times and all of those times it was directed in conversation to my wife. Last night word was leaked (released?) that the collective enemy of the United States of America was killed. After close to ten years of hunting, bombing, cave flushing, intel gathering, Taliban killing, and searching, our prize, our alleged one purpose, was captured dead.
This is a big deal, I don’t think there are many who would argue that it isn’t. Apparently the military knew where he was going to be so far in advance that they built a mock compound of his “safe” house and ran drills.
When we first heard that he was dead it was conveyed that it was through a bombing. “How anti-climactic” I thought. The boy in me thought, “I wish it was at the hands/trigger finger of some bad-ass Navy SEAL.” Then I jumped on the internet this morning to find that it was indeed at the hands/trigger finger of a bad-ass Navy SEAL. My first, “Imagine how…” was concerning him.
This guy decides to join the Navy, nay, the Navy SEALs. The most elite fighting force in the world. He makes it through basic, through BUDs, through Hell Week, then through the subsequent three to four years of straight training required to call yourself a Navy SEAL. Then he somehow lands himself in Seal Team 6, the most elite of the elite. This guy is one bad dude. So I wonder if he is thinking about all this on the chopper as it’s taking off. Is it really in his head that he is going to be nose to nose, or more likely barrel to barrel with the enemy of America? From what I’ve read (and it’s a fair amount) about SEALs they seem to be a hardy bunch, lots of gusto and moxie and whatever else. So there he sits until the green light flashes.
I wonder how many other missions just like this were red-lighted because the intel guys got word that their “man” was tipped off. How many other times and how many other guys sat, maybe even in the same chopper, and got turned around for one reason or another. What I am wondering is when it became real for this guy. When did he realize he was one of the most elite soldiers in the world? When did he realize he had just been face to face with the man responsible for so much harm? Was it in the ride over? Was it as they kicked the doors in and the light of their mounted flashlights fell on Osama, his son, and his two couriers? Was it when, through sheer instinct of training, that soldier squeezed his trigger twice? Was it when he watched as those two bullets entered bin Laden’s head almost precisely at the temple, turning his face into mush? Maybe it was when it was all over and they quickly and deftly threw his body into a bag, probably still warm and bleeding, and left for base. Maybe it was as he stared at the lifeless body bag high above Pakistan. Maybe it was even today. At some point he had to have thought, “I just killed the Enemy of the United States of America.”
Perhaps he could feel the blood of all his comrades, all the young men that went to the grave before him heave a sigh of relief. Perhaps he felt a burden, wondering why, if it was so easy, couldn’t it have happened sooner?
The part that really got me was that no one will ever know his name. That part boggles my mind! He will live the rest of his days and his children won’t even know that their Dad brought down, with two hollow point bullets, the largest terrorist leader to date. Perhaps in 50 or 70 years they will release his name, after he is long dead but then it won’t be so meaningful or potent to people. He will live out the rest of his days with the most amazing secret that no one will ever know.
I thought a little about Osama bin Laden himself. I wonder if he thought he was invincible after escaping so many times before. I wonder if he ever got a funny feeling around that one courier who acted a little goofy around him. Maybe he knew he was a rat and was going to kill him the next time he came around. I wonder what he thought as the door came flying in and he was blinded by the lights. He is a real person and he had real thoughts before he died and those are the things I wonder about.
I thought about President Barack Obama. A man who is not looked on with favor by a lot of the people I know. For me President Obama has been the first President whom I have thought about, really thought about. Knowing he doesn’t have a lot of experience, knowing that he inherited several huge messes including a recession and two wars. I cannot imagine the decisions a guy like that has to make on a daily basis.
I wondered about the first briefing he received when he was told that Intelligence had a positive and consistent location on the man. Then he gave his order to proceed on April 29th, just before he left for the South to view the damage done by so many deadly tornadoes. I wonder if his thoughts strayed while looking at piles and piles of used to be houses. I wonder if his hope was sparked.
Then he gets a call, “We got him, Mr. President”.
What do you feel in that moment?
What are your thoughts?
The news said he called former President Bush and former President Clinton. What a guy. I thought it was awesome to see that he realized that it wasn’t just his victory but it belonged to those who went before him as well.
Then my thoughts went to former President Bush. Perhaps he was awoken in the middle of night. Maybe there was a grumble under his breath as he was finished with being woken in the middle of the night. He spent the last 8 years being woken in the middle of the night. Then what does the President say to a former President?
“Good evening Mr. Bush. I was just given some news that I think you would find very pleasing. We conducted a raid on a presumed location of bin Laden, we got him.”
At least it goes something like that in my head.
I’m sure he didn’t get back to sleep that night. Perhaps he woke his wife up and they wept together.
I observed the cheering crowds waving their American flags. I saw the smiling happy faces. I thought, “All this over the death of one guy.” I thought about myself and wondered if I was happy he was dead. Was I mad? Did I feel satisfied?
My answer to all of the above is no.
Honestly all I feel is indifference. Indifference is an emotion that will get you in trouble with everybody. The protagonists rage that you won’t join in their cause. The antagonists berate that you don’t advocate theirs. It’s a lose/lose.
But I don’t feel like jumping on any bandwagon as big and important as some would make it seem. I think that just because some mean dude is dead it doesn’t signify the end of terrorism. Read a little about the Taliban, they’re pretty relentless. Granted we purchased our vengeance at the current price of 1,571 dead and 10,468 wounded. But now what? Are we vindicated?
Lastly I wondered, “What should I feel?”
Most are cheering today, some are shaking their heads. But where do I stand? My first reaction as the news was read was, “Cool, they got him”. But then I thought, “Wow, he’s really dead”.
How does God feel?
Is God pleased? Is he waving an American flag?
I don’t mean to assume by these questions that He condoned bin Laden or anything of the sort, I truly wonder what is on His heart. He obviously saw it coming, it wasn’t any surprise but what are His thoughts towards bin Laden?
Does Jeremiah 29:11 apply to people like him? I know what I think but I’ve been told I’m too liberal in my theology.
I think everyone has a chance to respond. I thin no one is too far past saving, even the people we really, really, really, really don’t like.
I wonder if bin Laden in a moment of clarity, as the door came rushing in and the lights mounted to the automatic rifles fell on him and his comrades, cried out to the one true God. What if all he could manage in one split second thought, was, “God save me!”
Would that be enough?