It was a glorification of two notorious bandits who were extremely engaging in their banter, their demeanor and entertaining to an audience.
We did not think of the victims of their “antics,” because they were not mean spirited in their lawlessness. America, perhaps always, but especially during prohibition, exhibited a great deal of tolerance/admiration for some pretty bad hombres, similar to Redford and Newman. So, as an audience we found it amusing when Butch kept saying of the Pinkertons who were chasing them, “Who are those guys?” They were relentless in their pursuit, so that in the end the bandits had to flee the country and take up their lawlessness in South America. They came to a very bad end.
That’s the way it is in the world of “frontier” justice. Bad guys will be hunted down and exterminated or brought to justice, or both. We Americans, would have a difficult time equating Osama Bin Laden with Butch Cassidy, yet to many throughout the world OBL was a semi heroic figure. That he evaded the relentless pursuit of the military might of the United States of America for nearly a decade was the stuff of legend in some parts of the world. However, just like in the movies, he came to a very bad end because of relentless pursuit.
There are a number of ways to view the extermination of OBL: on a political level, on a moral level, and on a spiritual level. Some will say the killing of Bin Laden was necessary and justified. Others will say that such action reflects poorly on the values and conduct of the US. Others will say it was long overdue. And others will say what others always say, something else. There are no end to the opinions, analyses, and advice that people offer at such times, all with great profundity and all completely without merit.
The only thing worthy of such a painful, difficult, and complicated moment is complete silence in the face of a dreadful, unwanted reality. The insanity of 9/11 and the insanity that ensued has ensnared us all in the unrelenting jaws of a monster so terrible, we dare not look at it. We respond to the creation of widows and orphans by creating more widows and orphans, in the end benefitting no one, except the undertakers and morticians. We must rid the world of the Sadaam Hussein’s and the Osama Bin Laden’s so that others will take their place, perhaps even more monstrous than they. But we shall feel relief that frontier justice has been administered. In the film, “Unforgiven,” Clint Eastwood is looking down the barrel of a shot gun pointed at Gene Hackman, who says to Eastwood, I don’t deserve to die like this.” Eastwood squints at him and says, “Deserve’s got nothin to do with it,” and then pulls the trigger.
The world does not conform to our expectations of it, no matter what those expectations might be. Words will not bring sanity to any of the actions. The actions will not change anything that has happened and will unleash more unintended consequences on all of us and the cycle of insanity will continue.
I remember once, sitting in my office next door to the church burning down. Outside of my window there was the most beautiful rose dancing in the mist and spray from the fire hoses. It was a great day for that rose, and it made quite an impression on me. Everything seemed so surreal. The events of life are just too big to get much of a handle on them, so we reduce things as best we can in order to pretend that we have some understanding. We have principles and values, beliefs, and paradigms for how the world is or ought to be–none of which actually have anything to do with the world, they are all about us. There is no magic algorithm we can apply in advance to any circumstance or event that give us even a glimmer of understanding, because our vision is never totally clear, complete, or cognizant of the consequences that will ensue. But, we happily provide input as to how others should have acted or not, and what the meaning of it all will be for the future. We are ever so wise and clever.
Death comes to us all, whether we deserve it or not–it is just the way things are. Every life has value, purpose, and meaning–some of which we realize and some of which we do not. In 2006, a terrible tragedy occurred at an Amish school in Pennsylvania–ten children were brutally gunned down, half of them died from their wounds. There were some who criticized the community for their haste to forgive, indicating that forgiveness could be inappropriate when no remorse has been expressed, and that such an attitude runs the risk of denying the existence of evil. Where people came up with such nonsense is difficult to surmise, but they apparently needed to capitalize on the moment and sell books. They merely comforted the family of the perpetrator, and the families of the victims. Even mercy is not beyond reproach.
There will most likely be books written about the heroic exploits of the Navy Seals who undertook the mission of taking out OBL–and probably a movie or two. The President and all involved deserve credit for making hard choices that were required of them because of their duties and obligations to the larger good of the country. Regardless of the demands of narrative and the gratitude of the country, we are still mired in an insane world that has not changed because of the death of one man and the courage of so many who set out to get him. We are no closer to peace in the world, and for many of us, no closer to peace within our own psyche.
The important thing to me, seems to be, that we cannot expect to find peace in the world–because the world is mired in a collective form of insanity, which is commonly referred to as drama. Peace comes from recognizing such insanity and no longer participating in it. The drama comes from questioning whether or not the United States should or should not have done such and such. Sanity arises when we accept that life is painful, difficult, and complicated–and whatever pain, difficulty, or complication that arises is just one more in an endless stream of life. We can participate in life without participating in the drama. Conversely, if we participate in the drama, we are not actually participating in life, but the illusion of life. Illusions will never comfort us or bring us peace. Peace will always comfort us, but will never change the world. Perhaps if we bring sanity to ourselves, we then bring it into the world.
Peace be with you.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
G. Charles Andersen, MA and Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, are co-authors of Soul Solitude: Taking Time for Our Souls to Catch Up. Rhoberta, trained as both a psychologist and professional mediator, is the founder of Sow Peace® International, www.SowPeace.com and Charles is a foremost metamythologist and just world advocate. Learn more about the book at www.SoulSolitude.com