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.