She had been listening to CBC radio in her room, I think, and they'd been talking about the death of bin Laden. She said that people had so many theories about him and about his death. She said that she felt it wasn't fair, and when I asked her to elaborate she said she couldn't put it into words. I asked her if she would like me to tell her what I thought, and she said yes, so I did.
I told her that I don't see the death of anyone as reason to celebrate. I said that while I am glad bin Laden can no longer plan terrorist attacks that he was just one man, and that there were nineteen other men who climbed into planes on 9/11 to carry out the tragic attacks that occurred that day. I told her that celebrating death shows a very dark side of our human nature, and that it doesn't reflect on us well, no matter how terrible the person was in life. I told her that many people see the world in black and white - all good, or all evil, with no shades of grey. I told her she should look up the Oklahoma City bombings to see that terrorists don't always come from other countries. I told her that 9/11 was a horrific day I will never forget, but that the death of bin Laden doesn't make it any less horrific or even make it any better. I told her about American prisons where people will stand outside and celebrate the execution of a death row inmate, and how I felt that was just very sad and very, very dark. Finally I told her that celebrating death means that in some ways the terrorists have won - they have made us connect with our own dark side and dark desires for revenge, and thus have shown us that we too have that darkness within us.
I spoke about martyrs and vengeance. I spoke about home-grown terrorism. I spoke about a dark day in the history of North America that is burned into the mind of everyone who saw a plane fly into a towering building. I spoke about how the world is more complicated and has more shades of grey than seems possible.
When I finished she said that what I had expressed is what she meant about it all seeming unfair. She didn't understand her classmates rejoicing in bin Laden's death, and I could see it troubled her. I told her that young adults often still see the world as black and white, and that as they grew older they may see the shades of grey - or they may not.
She went off to school and I went off about my day feeling slightly worn out as these discussions at 6:30 in the morning can be a little taxing. I am always happy to have them with her, though, as I see her growing as a person - questioning, thinking, wondering. I see her understanding of the world expand and I realize that it won't be long before she will be teaching me new ways to see the world, too. She may be currently struggling with how to express what she thinks but I know that when she finds those words the lessons she will teach will be powerful ones. I cannot wait.
For some reason the discussion this morning brought to mind this song...
"Turn Turn Turn" - The Byrds