Let me start by saying that I have no idea how to start. Always a good sign!
It’s been an eventful day. For sure, everyone is talking about Osama Bin Laden. For a bunch of people all saying shades of the same thing, we’re saying an awful lot of it – I can hardly keep up with Twitter and FaceBook between The Whuff’s feedings. I know that this event has brought out a lot of ugliness in a lot of people, but I’m very happy to report that among my own friends, the response has been level and measured. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by intelligent and compassionate people, who even in their celebration of a victory of sorts, are able to recognize the humanity of the actual man involved underneath the symbolism.
Myself, I’m so stuck on the man I’m having trouble with the symbol.
Even before I became a mom, I’ve spent a lot of time practicing (or trying to practice) compassion on the basis that we, every one of us, are somebody’s baby. No matter where we are now, the moment we were born was the highlight of someone’s life. Our first moments were miraculous. This is true of every single human being on the planet and it’s amazing how quickly we forget it. We can all focus on the fact that everybody dies, but we skip over the much more joyful – and equally true – point that each and every one of us was born. We revel in new babies, but forget that everyone around us was an equally precious and amazing baby once too.
Try it sometime. I especially recommend doing so on a crowded subway. Think of each individual’s birth day. The joy in that room that is nigh on palpable when a new baby enters the world. Each and every person brought that joy with them. Makes it a little easier to accept that they may not have also brought their deodorant.
Being a mom has really driven this home. I can’t look at anyone anymore and not see that they were born, their parents stayed up through the nights, that they were at one time just as precious and totally helpless as my own son. Everyone.
Which is where I get stuck on thinking about Bin Laden’s death. Or anyone’s death. I can accept mortality and the fact that everything, everyone, everywhere ends. That’s not it. What I can’t possibly wrap my head around is feeling joy about it. I just can’t. Have you ever smelled a baby? That newborn smell that is just completely intoxicating? Everyone had that. Bin Laden had it too. His mother undoubtedly sniffed his wee head, never imagining that he would commit acts of terrorism greater than what he’d left for her in his diaper. No mother ever wants to think that her child will do horrible things. And yet, the people who do are all still someone’s baby. Awful as they may have become, they started off completely innocent. We all do.
Myself, I’ll confess to having spent most of last night awake and watching my phone constantly. But it wasn’t because of Bin Laden. It was because someone very dear to me was in labor and I was just too overjoyed for this baby’s birth and too strung out with anxiety about her labor (which from what little info I have wasn’t any easier than my own 47 hour ordeal, though she clocked in at a “mere” 36hrs) to sleep.
That’s the real big news of my day. New life. A new source of love and joy in the world. That, and not any one death, is worthy of celebration.