Justice Has Been Done

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

Sitting at Gordon Biersch in Burbank. That’s where I was when I read the news of Osama bin Laden’s death in my Twitter feed.

I did a double-take and immediately scrolled to find corroboration from another source. CNN, The New York Times, and nearly every other tweeter in my feed shared some sort of confirmation of the news. I went from Could it be true?? to some sort of jubilation, to guilt of that jubilation, to solemn realization of just what binLaden’s death might actually mean.

This certainly is not over.

This morning I shared my own thoughts on the matter.

War is, indeed, complicated. When my mother was killed nearly 20 years ago, I believed an eye for an eye was the only way to settle the score. I’ve since evolved that belief into: Resolved anger has no need to wish for “an eye for an eye,”; resolved anger is at peace. The circumstances of my mother’s death, however, were nothing close to 9/11, a mass murderer of hatred, or being hunted down for crimes committed. That being said, the grief I felt was, I’m sure, the same depth of emotion as anyone’s loss on 9/11.

This morning I wondered what Mother Teresa’s reaction would be to this news, knowing she would never have marched against war, only for peace. I wonder what peace this death brings the survivors of 9/11. I wonder what comfort this brings to those who lost family and friends. I wonder what justice has actually been done.

I ask these questions in earnest, and hope that some sense of peace and resolution has found every person affected by the terrible acts of the 9/11 attack. For me, peace has never come from the death or demise of another.

I used to visualize the demise and death of the man who shot and killed my mother, and pretend it would make me feel better. I imagined myself not in celebration but in some sort of satisfaction. And then I would wonder, in satisfaction of what? No matter whether Steven was put in jail, on death row, or hit by a car in a freak bus accident, my mother would remain dead. I eventually moved from wishing him a horrible death to wishing him a horrible life.

Turns out, wishing someone a horrible anything still had celebration and satisfaction eluding me.

After a screaming fit and near nervous breakdown over an SUV cutting me off in traffic, I was forced to look at the overflow of anger in my life. I’d masterfully skirted around my anger in years of therapy, living my life as a functioning anger-suppressor-a-holic. I would feel the anger, feel guilty about being angry, and hold it all in. Until it exploded onto the streets of Pasadena toward a guy who just wanted to get around my indecisive driving.

I realized I was missing huge pieces of my life by holding onto anger that had slowly built up to tear holes in my self and my relationships, until we were all tattered beyond recognition. Processing the anger—feeling it and then letting it go—lifted a weight I thought I would carry for the rest of my life.

I fear this is the same anger that grips people over 9/11 and Osama bin Laden. The anger acts on our behalf. The anger rationalizes irrational behavior. The anger feeds the ego into thinking, “Justice must be done!

I still wonder what Mother Teresa’s reaction to last night’s breaking news might have been. I wonder what justice has been done. I wonder when the hurt and the anger will all end. I wonder when peace will actually begin.

And still, I know it’s not quite as simple as processing or letting go of anger. But it’s a start.

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