Sunday, May 1, 2011

Osama Bin Laden Dead: What Are You Teaching Your Children?

As Jeff and I settled into our seats during a rare last-minute date night at the movies, I checked my phone before turning off the ringer. Quickly, I realized that the Web was abuzz as news that Osama Bin Laden was killed hit Facebook and Twitter.

"Ding dong, the witch is dead!"

Photoshopped pictures of Bin Laden, President Obama and even the Statue of Liberty appeared alongside cheers of celebration, dominating social networks and the news. I had chills as I watched it all unfold, knowing this is a huge moment in history.

But something kept nagging at me. This didn't feel like a celebration at all.

Amy, who blogs as "Selfish Mom" said it best (via Twitter) : "When an American dies, & I see ppl in other countries take to the streets cheering, it turns my stomach. We're just as bad."

What scares me most about the party attitude is what our kids are witnessing. Given Bin Laden's intention and ability to physically, mentally and emotionally paralyze people around the world, sure, there's a huge sigh of peaceful relief, knowing that someone so powerful has been brought down. But celebrating OBL's death with parades in the streets feels inhumane.

Renee's 10-year-old son Seth is already confused and disturbed by the news, leaving her trying to explain to him why people are cheering when someone is dead. "When all of what we teach our kids is that killing is wrong and revenge is wrong, it's very hard for a ten year old to understand this." And he's not the only one conflicted. Renee says, "I hate that I have to even teach him about this - makes me sound like a hypocrite - oh yeah, killing is wrong always -- don't ever kill anyone. Unless it's a terrorist. Or someone wanting to hurt you. Then kill away. Not easy, the blurring of those lines. I appreciate his empathy and I'm so incredibly grateful that my child even thinks like that - but makes it very hard and is just one of those things that will require many, many more conversations."

By the way, you know who's not dead? Osama's followers. In fact, they're possibly feeling more loyal than ever, willing to do whatever it takes to get revenge both here in America, as well as in the middle east. What do we tell our kids about them and how they want to hurt us even more now?

When Jeff and I belly up to the kitchen island for breakfast tomorrow morning, we've got our conversation all planned out. Because if we don't talk to our kids sooner than later, someone else will, and we have no control over what they hear when they're not at home.

We'll talk about what happened September 11, 2001, providing age-appropriate details. We'll tell them about the man who was behind that attack and that he has been killed. We'll assure them that we're here to keep them safe and that we're lucky to have the brave men and women of our United States military working so hard to protect our country.

But one thing we won't do is give them impression that this is something to celebrate, like the elimination of a character on one of their Wii games. Because the loss of human life, no matter how evil that life was led, is anything but black and white, it's so much more complicated than that.

What will you tell your kids?


Isis M. Nocturne said...

Well said. Yes, it's good that one person who promoted hatred and murder is gone, it's not something to party over.

Selfish Mom said...

Well put. I totally understand being happy that he's dead, I know I am. It's the partying in the streets that makes me cringe.

Skyraven said...

As a native New Yorker, I'm not really sure how I feel about it, much less how to explain all of this to my son. We've already talked about 9/11 and my memories of the towers. I've also talked to him about cherishing life. We heard the news together, but I didn't react. I knew that he'd be watching me to try and figure out how he felt about it. I'll eventually talk about it with him after I find the right words. My biggest concern is what happens next.

BensonFam said...

I agree. Yes, the world feels a little safer now, but seeing the celebratory attitude of the crowd also made me a little sad. It's a hugely confusing and mixed message we're sending not only to our children, but to others in the world.

Unknown said...

Wow that we nicely put. It so true, I started seeing it on facebook, he's that point I didn't even know who HE was. But, your right, we need to protect our kids and talk to them in our homes. They look to us to see how we do things, they watch us more than they listen to us. Having 2 kids with a wide age range my son 17 and my daughter 8....they watch us. So, thanks for putting this out there opening up the conversation. IT goes back to do unto others, that you would have done unto you.

Lindsey said...

I couldn't agree more. When I saw the people outside of the White House cheering and screaming and so happy, i was sickened like your other blogger said, when they kill one of ours and they sit there celebrating it makes me so mad...that was someone's father/mother, child, spouse, etc. Someone held that man/woman when they were a baby and crying, someone vowed to love them to death due us part, they were the first thing their baby saw when he/she was born, and they want to celebrate killing our soldiers and people.....that's why I won't celebrate like the people in the middle east, I wouldn't want them cheering like that if it was someone close to me or one of the many men and women who fight for MY freedom, therefore I will not cheer like them when one of theirs die....yes, I think he is evil, and I am glad he's dead, he is responsible for so many deaths and heartbroken can you not be relieved he's gone....but there are so many more people behind's not like this whole thing is over.

Anonymous said...

It is called RIGHTEOUS ANGER!!!