I first heard the news about the death of Osama bin Laden during my morning commute.
The cover of the free Metro paper had his picture and a big headline–Got Him–but not much else. I spent the rest of the day listening to the news as I worked on other projects. The overarching theme was that this was the end of an era, a defining moment in the Obama presidency and, for young folks like me, a new dawn in our lives.
Yet while many breathed a sigh of relief, I couldn’t help but think of everything else that’s still going on in the world, and how much of it will remain the same.
- The government of Syria will still shoot at its own people–and say that it’s suppressing terrorists.
- France will still prevent a minority of women from dressing how they see fit–and say that it’s in national security and cultural interests.
- Somalia will continue to be overrun by militias and splintered into pseudo-countries–but the United States may still keep ties with the government in Mogadishu as a means of keeping “terrorism” at bay.
- Pakistan will certainly continue to flirt with lawlessness and corruption–but cash will still be pumped into the government to “prevent Islamists” from taking power.
These things will be allowed to happen largely because we still treat Islam–especially the more conservative schools — as something toxic and foreign to “our modern way of life”. I suspect that such a view will be used as justification for actions that, in some cases, legally and constitutionally discriminate against its followers, will be something that plagues our societies in the decades to come–and something our children and grandchildren will demand answers for.
A truly horrible man is dead, but we’re still so entwined with a decade or more of distrust, confusion, prejudice, and universal ignorance about why he came into existence in the first place–and what it means about ourselves, our past actions, and our world.
Let there be whooping and hollering, but let’s not forget that this is by no means over.
We have to remember that the world is not a clear cut as a wanted poster. It’s now our duty to uphold justice, fairness, and liberty for all, despite our differences. It’s going to take a lot more than 10 years; consider the past a lesson in patience.