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An Act of Revenge

Osama bin Laden is dead. The moment that news broke, many Americans nearly burst with joy and newfound patriotism. If you turned on the news, you would see people singing “The Star Spangled Banner” or reciting the pledge of allegiance in celebration.

How sad, I thought.

Before you judge me, let me explain. I’m no fan of bin Laden, and I am still horrified by the September 11 attacks, though I don’t pretend to know the pain the families of their victims must still feel. No, it is not the death of bin Laden that saddens me.

What does sadden me is the fact that it took the death of an enemy to inspire patriotism in so many Americans. Why are we so moved by what is simply an act of revenge? Vengeance does not lead to real closure, and it does not solve anything. If we seek revenge on our enemies, the friends of our enemies will seek revenge on us.

Once this cycle starts, it’s difficult to break it. It might never break unless one side simply grows tired of fighting. Maybe it won’t be our side that grows tired, some say, and maybe we’ll win. Win what? Bragging rights, I suppose. But what are bragging rights compared to the sacrifices of our men and women who will have to keep fighting our battles? The thing that would sadden me more than anything would be to know these men and women are making such sacrifices for the sake of revenge.



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