Monday, May 02, 2011

A little decorum, please.

My mom used to say that to my brother and me when we were kids. "Have a little decorum, please." I thought it was sort of an annoying phrase and I didn't know why she had to choose those particular words, but now I've figured it out. Nothing else fits quite like the word "decorum."

For us, it was usually when Nick was farting and I was burping or we were wiping our mouths on our sleeves or some other shenanigans. It was her way of saying, "Act with some poise and manners, I didn't raise you to be barbarians."

That's pretty much what I wanted to shout at the TV last night as I heard the throngs of people singing "We are the Champions" in the wake of Osama bin Laden's death.

Have a little decorum, please.

Yes, it is good that OBL is dead. Yes, it might bring some small amount of closure, the tiniest bit of justice to those whose loved ones were lost on 9/11 or to those who have been lost since in a desperate search for that madman.

But, "We are the Champions" is not the way to celebrate. That's what you sing when you win a football game or a basketball game. Or on the way to your broomball games if you're like my friends and I were back in college. It's what you sing when you're thrilled over a fun victory.

In this situation, singing "We are the Champions" is the American version of beheading a man and parading his head through the street and then hanging it from a bridge for everyone to see. Shame on us; we know better.

When your goal is to kill a man who has murdered thousands of your people, you don't celebrate reaching that goal in the same way that you celebrate winning a football game.

Because war is not a game.

War costs money. Trillions upon trillions of dollars.

War costs lives. Thousands of them. Some innocent bystanders, some brave volunteers.

War costs our freedom. It costs us the ability to travel anywhere in the world without concern for our safety. It costs us the freedom to move across the planet unobstructed.

When you win a battle in a war, you don't sing songs and celebrate like it's a sporting event. You have a little decorum. Behind closed doors you hug your partners and your friends and your loved ones. You smile for the victory but shed tears over those lost along the way. Many have been lost and many will be lost in the years to come.

You crack open a beer and breathe a sigh of relief for this moment of peace.

And then you take a deep breath and prepare yourself for the next step. You prepare yourself to keep on fighting 'til the end.


Ali said...

Like. :) beautifully put.

Anonymous said...

My thoughts exactly. Thank you for putting it so eloquently.

Fulton said...

"We are the Champions" is very wrong, without a doubt. You're right, decorum on that type of celebration is certainly needed. I completely agree with you on everything except one thing though. I wouldn't describe the closure or justice as being small or tiny. I'd venture a guess that if I lost a loved one in 9/11, bin laden's death would mean the world to me. I can understand how that one act of killing the man who killed my family would be as much closure as I could ever get out of the situation and enough justice that I would pound my fist with excitement.

Bri!!! said...

Loved this post. Below is something I posted on FB. I love the MLK quote.

Hilary, have you read "Unbroken" by chance?

Martin Luther King~"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

‎"Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth" (Proverbs 24:17)

While I am grateful he is gone, I'm not sure it's appropriate to have a party. I feel it's more appropriate to reverence the Innocent lives that were taken and hope and pray for peace.

Hillary said...

Bri, that is a perfect Proverbs verse for this situation. I haven't read Unbroken. Should I?

Michael, I have to disagree. I didn't lose anyone in 9/11, but if I did, I think I would get some (like, as in a tiny bit) of satisfaction knowing that the main perpetrator is gone, but bin Laden being dead certainly wouldn't bring back my person or make my person's death any less bitter. Maybe it would be different if my person were seeking bin Laden, trying to rid the world of him, and was killed in the process. A soldier in Afghanistan trying to find bin Laden. But as an innocent bystander? There could be no justice for that -- at least not for me.

Dawn said...

I agree with you. His death is a very small acomplishment in comparison to the work that is left to be done. God Bless the soldiers that put their lives on the line to keep us safe. Unfortunately, OBL's attitude is not unique to him. There is hatred around the globe, and until we all have enough, it will continue. The only answer is to make sure everyone is fed, and educated, and housed. Once your basic needs are met, you're less likely to lash out at total strangers. Wehn you're hungry or unsafe, you need someone to blame, and the US is so wealthy that we are an obvious choice as a target for hatred. Unjustified, but a target nonetheless. Let's hope that this is one step toward peace everywhere, and a world where nobody fears for their lives, whether the threat be starvation or a madman.

Anonymous said...

Very well said. While so many want to rejoice in our "victory", I just don't feel it. How can we be the champions when we have lost so much. Maybe his death is just more of a reminder of all that we have lost in these last 10 years.

Bri's words or rather MLK's are those that all of us would do well to ponder.