Nearly a decade after 9/11, we were startled out of our daily life by the death of Osama bin Laden. Immediately after 9/11, we looked to each other for comfort and support. Now, we could not set aside our political perspectives for a single moment of closure.
My heart aches as I hear the conspiracy theories, the blame for the difficulties of the country being continually attributed to one politician or another based on party affiliations, and the praise for a successful mission withheld from those same individuals for the same reason. We have so much anger with each other.
Perhaps Osama bin Laden did more than he hoped to accomplish. The events following 9/11: the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the stream of misinformation provided to the American people, the sacrifice of our men and women overseas, and the further polarization of our political parties has put us on the defensive and made us weary. Not only because for the average American, the struggle to find a good paying job, to own a home, to educate our children, to care for our sick, not to mention "pursue happiness" is so challenging these days, but because we have bought into the lie that we need to choose sides. We have listened to politicians and news media who have alternate agendas and we filter based on what feels safe rather than what is true. We are settling for division.
Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda's actions created an opportunity for partisanship to grow and fester as we became divided about how to address potential future terrorist threats. His actions will continue to have an effect so long as we continue to further polarize as a country along partisan lines. We need to evaluate information carefully, be thoughtful rather than seek to shore up our initial tendencies towards a particular perspective, hold our politicians and media accountable to telling us the truth, and feel empowered as a nation to deal with the many issues we face. We have the power as a people to find our way together if that is what we truly desire. We have so many resources that are unavailable to people around the world, and despite our differences, we are the most diverse nation in existence to live relatively successfully (and comparatively) in harmony. We have the choice to further create conflict in the days ahead with our words and actions or we can start fresh and tackle the next challenge together, with responsible discussion, with respect for those who hold opposing viewpoints. If we all seek the truth rather than that which is comfortable, if we seek to listen with open ears instead of jumping to conclusions that let us reside in the meager solace of self-righteousness, and we are solution focused rather than self-promoting, perhaps we can take steps forward and truly begin healing. If not, I fear we will continue the path that Osama bin Laden further nudged us along. Let us have peace.