I am not going to talk at any great length about the ramifications of the death of bin Laden, because I am an artist and a gardener and I don’t know politics. I don’t know whether this is the victory condition of the war on terror or whether Al Quaeda is going to promptly blow up every landmark they can get at and we will go back to cowering in the closet for fear of terrorist bogeymen.
I also don’t believe that anybody else knows for sure either, and I find I don’t much care for predictions—we’ll all find out together when we get there. If you feel you must speculate, there are some lovely blogs out there where they will be happy to discuss it with you. This is not one of them.
What I do want to say, however, is that no matter how you feel about the whole issue, anybody who is busy yelling at other people for their reactions needs to shut t’hell up and write fifty times on the chalkboard I will not shame people because their reactions to large and emotional events are different than mine.
Catharsis is complicated. People process emotions any number of ways, and nobody gets to tell you what emotion is appropriate to any given situation. We are what we are, we feel as we feel, this is a big weird strange thing that none of us have much experience with, and if you want to dance in the aisles and scream and break out the booze, do it. If you want to be sad because of so much wasted life on every side, do it. If you want to wander around haughtily telling people “Well, nothing’s going to CHANGE, you REALIZE that!” then…kindly wait until Tuesday, that’s really not helpful right at the moment. People are processing, here.
It really doesn’t matter if it’s vengeance or relief or slaying a dragon. It’s probably all of them and a couple more things that don’t go in conveniently cut-and-dried emotional boxes.
This is big weird shit. This is big weird shit with an incredibly long lead time. It means something to people, and people have to get big weird shit out however they can. This is catharsis. We shake, we laugh, we cry, generally all at the same time, we toast the military with our best booze, we cry some more. Some of us go party, some of us hide in the closet, some of us make appallingly bad jokes, whatever. We feel what we feel.
And that is fine. And don’t let anybody tell you it’s not.