Originally posted on http://www.thepunch.com.au
It all changes, however, when that man is Osama Bin Laden.
There are many theories about how heroes and villains are created. The majority of us are destined to work nine to five and will neither blow buildings up nor end world poverty.
But a special few are perhaps born with some rare innate quality that allows them to escape the curse of mediocrity and transcend into the fiction of Good versus Evil.
Others suggest that we make them. We, as a society, turn an arbitrary handful of individuals into what we need them to be – symbols of hope or symbols of horror. And then we justify our behaviour accordingly.
We use the symbols of hope to help us pursue our own desires and endeavours and we use the symbols of horror to give us an enemy that we can justifiably destroy.
In the current fiasco Al Qaeda is the devil incarnate, embodiment of all that is threatening and cruel and knows no moral boundaries. It is a force that will kill indiscriminately and amorally and a force that is and will always be at large until it is destroyed.
Bin Laden is the human manifestation of this force of Evil.
The USA represents us. You and me and everyone else who is not Al Qaeda regardless of whether or not we are connected with each other, or the USA, in any way whatsoever. The USA is defending us. And our rights (even the ones it refuses to acknowledge or respect).
The USA is the embodiment of all that is Good and powerful. It is a force that regrettably has to kill but at least does with after immense amounts of planning with hi-tech equipment. The USA will always be under threat until Al Qaeda is destroyed. Obama is the human manifestation of universal morality.
Al Qaeda, under the leadership of Bin Laden, has claimed responsibility for attacks all over the globe. From Jordan, to Niger, to Bali, to Yemen, to Pakistan to of course New York City, USA.
The USA is less inclined to claim responsibility for the rising body count in Afghanistan and Iraq but none the less has an impressive tally in the realms of high hundreds of thousands (much debate surrounds exact figures).
In the story of Good and Evil, Obama and Osama have to eventually come head to head in order for Good to conquer Evil, and for peace and love and happiness to be restored.
Depending on the director this may take place in Obama’s office as he sits at his desk probably drawing up plans to destroy Osama and suddenly Osama flies in through the window dressed in black (terrorists, ninjas and embodiments of evil tend to dress alike) and they battle it out in the heart of the USA on the President’s desk.
Probably Obama ends up stabbing Osama in the neck with a letter opener- but only after a lengthy struggle that leaves Obama with a few relatively serious (but not fatal) manly injuries.
No director would have put Obama on one side of the world sitting meekly in the Situation Room (despite its impressive name) probably with a cup of tea, waiting to hear whether or not his minions successfully shot an unarmed man cornered in a building with his wife and some kids.
And then at a moment where the Good usually shows some humanity and respect towards the death even of the arch-enemy; Obama authorised the ocean disposal of Osama’s body.
No photos, no coronial enquiry, no nothing to either substantiate his death or the way in which it happened. No returning the body to the family for fear of humanising the man who symbolises everything we’re meant to be fighting again.
And THAT’S when we all realise that it’s not actually a movie that we’re watching, and that in fact a man has just been killed, who has caused an immense amount of pain and suffering in the world; by (the henchmen of) another man who has similarly caused an immense but more PC amount of pain and suffering in the world.
And that’s when I expected all of us to sit back a little deflated from our TVs and look at one another and comment on the futility of it all and the immense tragedy that any of the hundreds of thousands of deaths happened in the first place.
But instead, thousands of people sat back from the TVs far from deflated and proceeded in hoards to the streets of New York City where they celebrated and danced in exaltation of the death of another human being.
They drank and danced to pumping music, basking in the enormous sense of power that comes from destroying the symbol of all that is Evil and dangerous.
Even if that symbol was in reality just a man made of flesh that needed only a bullet to destroy him.
And even if there is something instinctively repulsive about rejoicing over murder – no matter how corrupt the blood may have been that was shed.
It’s been ten years of hate and fear. Ten years during which Osama has been almost caught countless times and the USA has reasserted its position of power and authority an infinite number of times.
It’s been ten years of war in Afghanistan that has attracted periodic public support that rapidly descended into public ambivalence, then public confusion and then public frustration.
Osama is dead.
As a result of the power game between Good and Evil a lot of people have died who had no inclination whatsoever to play games with guns, bombs or world domination.
But as always with games of Good and Evil; and with games of Power – the War in Afghanistan will go on. Because there are no Good Guys without Bad Guys to destroy.