Tonight my children learned about Osama Bin Laden. Tonight my children learned about 9/11 and the murder of thousands. Tonight they watched the news of Bin Laden’s death alongside me and I cursed him for it. I cursed Bin Laden for the murder of innocents and innocence. I cursed him for forcing my hand and having to take a piece of their childhood away from them.
Because tonight I confirmed that while there are no monsters under their beds or in the closets there are monsters who walk amongst us. My soon to be 10.5 year-old asked me if we murdered a murderer and whether we have to go kill his kids. My almost seven year-old asked why he was so mean and then told me that she wasn’t afraid because daddy will kill bad people. Her older brother nodded his head and smiled at me as he confirmed that she was correct.
And as they broke my heart and warmed my soul with their trust I sat and listened to President Obama and considered what to tell these children of mine. Sat and thought about what to explain and how to explain it. Wondered if I had made a mistake in letting them watch this and realized that I wouldn’t have been happy had I not.
These decisions are hard…so very hard to make. I writeposts about these thoughts to help sort out my feelings and chronicle some of the more important events and moments. These are the days where you remember that there are no hard and fast rules for parenting. These are the moments when I struggle for words that will convey the answers that they need in the most appropriate way. I remember the day that he asked me what a gas chamber was and how I did my best to answer in a way that was appropriate.
I am not a pacifist. I believe that there are times when you must go to war. I believe that when you go to war you unleash hell upon the other side. I believe that it is ok to say that some ideologies are morally superior to others. I believe that the families of “evil” people probably cry when their sons/daughters die just as we do for our own children. But that doesn’t mean that we cannot or should not protect ourselves.
I believe that a smart society educates its citizenry and provides affordable healthcare for them. I believe that smart parents and smart people judge others based upon actions. I don’t believe that the death penalty is always a deterrent nor do I believe that it should be outlawed.
A smart society looks out for all of its citizenry from the weak to the strong. It protects those within its embrace and those without.
I can write on about my beliefs. I can write 10,000 words on why I believe these things. I can cite the Constitution and explain why I believe it is a living document. I can tell you how the Electoral College works and sing along to all sorts of School House Rock Songs about the U.S. government. I can do all this and more but I can’t quite make sense of the senseless.
I can’t tell you that I feel good about speaking with my children about these things or why it is surreal that the news about Bin Laden was released on Holocaust Remembrance Day and that on this day in 1945 they announced that Hitler was dead.
What I can tell you is that as I tried to sort it all out in my head I told my kids that they are safe. I told them that they don’t have to worry about tornadoes here and promised that I would protect them. When my daughter asked me if I would kill bad people who tried to hurt them I said yes. I didn’t engage in a philosophical discussion about whether it is right or wrong. Didn’t tell her that she probably didn’t have to worry about it because it was unlikely to be a problem. I just said yes because I knew that she didn’t need more than that.
And when her older brother told me that he knew that I would say that I smiled and hugged him.
And then I walked out of their room and turned on mindless television for a while. There would be plenty of time to read and watch the news later. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel badly about OBL. Fact is that I hope he suffered. That is not nice nor will it bring back those who died because of him, but it is true.
Now I hope that we can use his death to come together as a country and try to do a better job of fixing what is broken because in my mind that ultimate up yours would be to come back unified and stronger. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.