I first heard the news from my wife, who received an update on Facebook. Al Qaeda leader and financier, Osama bin Laden, had been reportedly killed during a raid of a compound outside Islamabad, Pakistan. Watching a re-run of The Taking of Pelham 123 was now a secondary interest. Learning more about the assassination of bin Laden became primary.

Information was slow to come out as the press corps appeared to be waiting for the official announcement from the President. Even though the details were sketchy there was a definite reaction from the American people. The one term that kept coming up in describing the events was “jubilation.” For some reason this troubled me. I decided to turn in for the night and wait for more details surrounding the events and the potential fallout from the action.

When my dogs dragged me out of bed to feed them the following morning it gave me opportunity to check the newswire and see what other details there were in regards to the stunning news of bin Laden’s death. I read as much unique information as I could find but details were still sketchy. What was made very clear in the media was the American reaction. From political leaders to first responders to the common man on the street the response was similar. The same word that still resonated through the media was “jubilation.” This still troubled me. I needed to figure out why.

I began to look at the many photos of the American reaction that were splashed all over the Internet. What I saw was a wild, almost uncontained, celebration of bin Laden’s death. These pictures looked all too familiar to me. We’ve seen these types of scenes in the Middle East when a key campaign is won or someone is martyred. These are the types of scenes that we have openly criticized as being irrational or the people being over-zealous in their support of a flawed cause. Had we become that which we most often criticized?

I can understand the desire to see the leader of Al Qaeda killed, but this reaction seemed over the top. There was a disconnect in logic. It had been almost 10 years since the September 11th attacks, and our reasoning for going into Afghanistan and Iraq had changed multiple times since then. Osama bin Laden had become an afterthought in the search for redemption. Why was there such an outpouring of emotion for this killing when the world had changed so greatly since 9/11? This is likely the dilemma my conscience was wrestling with. What has this changed and is this action worthy of a celebration?

As I sat in the dawn’s early light of the day after bin Laden’s killing, the thing that kept running through my head was what has changed? Was the economy going to get better? Were more jobs going to become available because of this death? Was the value sucked out of my house by the housing bubble going to magically return? Was my retirement any more secure, or were the political vultures going to continue to pick at that corpse? Were health care costs going to drop and become affordable? Was anything that directly impacted my current existence going to change as a result of this assassination? I couldn’t see how this made any difference to the issues that matter.

I will admit that I do find some satisfaction that another terrorist has been killed in a very grizzly fashion. I also think it is great that it was our intelligence community and one of our SEAL teams that got the job done (this is how you respond to instances of terror, not through large military engagement). Unfortunately I don’t think this is a time to take to the streets and celebrate. Not when the streets are filled with the problems caused by chasing the shadow of bin Laden and his ilk with the costly machinations of our military. When measured against the trillions of dollars spent in making war against two nations one has to wonder, was the over-reaction all worth it? Did we win anything by killing bin Laden or did bin Laden win the war by bankrupting our nation?

It is tough to be celebratory, even when achieving a long term goal like this. Not when there are so many other troubles facing this country. I’ll take to the streets in celebration when the villains from Wall Street get tracked down and dealt with in a similar fashion. Or when the economy gets fixed and well paying jobs are available again. Or when things become affordable based on my miserable ever shrinking salary. Or my future is re-secured with the money and tax dollars I invested in vehicles like my home and retirement saving plans. Until then I’ll remain reserved over the killing of another terrorist mastermind and hold my celebrations for when my country is made whole again.

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