|Photo credit: Emily Berl for The New York Times|
They say that when you grieve, you go through 5 emotional stages. Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. I didn't expect that I would feel them about, of all people, Bin Laden.
While I slept half way across the world in Paris, something amazing happened: US forces found and killed Bin Laden.
My first reaction to this was disbelief. It's been such a long battle. So many lives have been lost in the search for this... beast. I couldn't fathom that after nearly 10 years, the puppet of hate had been silenced. It just felt unreal. It had to be a hoax, someone must be behind this, still pulling the strings.
But the more I read and watched this morning it slowly sunk in.
While I obviously felt many other things, namely relief, anger started to emerge as the dominant emotion. I saw Americans celebrating, showing their asses on TV, screaming at the camera with wide smiles and tongues hanging out like lap dogs, and generally... well, sounding ignorant.
I'm pretty pissed off about the media coverage in France. I didn't expect a nation-wide party, and I'm sure that's not what's really happening. Not in the majority at least. Of course, there are some who are going to get drunk, and wave a flag, and celebrate like it's the fourth of July... but I didn't feel that way at all.
My thoughts were so far from that it's ridiculous. I was thinking of the families who lost loved ones and friends in the towers and in the wars. I thought of all the sacrifice and pain and humiliation the US has suffered.
I'd like to think I'm not the only one. Surely, people who have lived through that loss, were having a moment of silent reflection?
But I guess that doesn't make for very good television because all I saw from Paris was a bunch of hootin' and hollerin'. At least no one showed their boobs.
Tonight while watching the news I found myself thinking... "Please, please someone, anyone, show a vigil, show some people who are not acting like they're at a frat party. Don't let this be the only image of Americans that the world has to evaluate our culture..." Alas, my pleas fell on deaf TV executive's ears.
Merci Paris, t'as capturé la drame, mais pas la bonne.
Then I just felt plain old sad. Sad that this is how people see my culture, this is what will remain in the archives of the reaction to the single most significant military action in my life time. A bunch of kids, partying in the street like they'd just won the $25M bounty on his head.
Sad that due respect wasn't paid to the people who deserved justice the most.
I'm starting to come to terms with it. Beginning to accept that what I at first perceived as an inappropriate celebration, others may see as a sign of hope.
I watched the president's speech. Watched it again. And felt a few small ripples of happiness myself, though it was accompanied by a smidge of guilt. Obama's speech was solemn, yes, but it was also hopeful. I think I even glimpsed a bit of a smile at times that he was probably trying hard to suppress.
Maybe it's good for America to find its smile, good for Americans to make peace with the situation and to let out their collective steam.
Still, I wish the sober, thoughtful, respectful side of of Americans had had equal portrayal on this side of the world. The print media was much more dignified, and the coverage of ground zero that I saw online made me feel a lot better.
I think it's still sinking in for me, and maybe when it does fully, I'll raise a glass too... but not to Bin Laden's death. He doesn't deserve my attention.
I'll raise my glass to the soldiers. To the lost ones. To their families. To the persistence and courage and love of democracy that my country fights to uphold. But not to the execution itself. To that, I'll dedicate an exhale.
How did you feel?