Having decided I cannot remain silent on this, I now feel daunted by the task of expressing that which churns inside me. All I can say is . . . bear with me, and forgive me my artlessness. Words fail me more frequently than I prefer, and often when I am most in need of them.
I begin this day with a mix of triumph and discomfort, visceral satisfaction and spiritual reflection. My sense of celebration is stayed by my sense of mourning. This poison didn't need my help to become medicine, but that doesn't mean I oughtn't remind myself that it's still poison. It isn't in me, as a Buddhist, to cheer for anyone's death. There is a sense that something necessary has been accomplished, sure, and even an emotional sense of raison, but I find it's in my best spiritual interest to channel that into a somber reflection on what has been lost, and what has now come full circle. On some level, all lives are equally worthy (or equally unworthy) of mourning when lost.
Is it understandable to nurse a sense of triumph when an enemy is vanquished? Oh, yes. But is it not also distasteful to cheer for a loss of human life, even if I accept the necessity of this particular evil? Necessary killing is not possible--or, perhaps more accurately, can never be compatible with civilization--unless it is mitigated with some sense of moral discomfort. I admit to a certain visceral satisfaction, and, yes, a sense of pride that this was accomplished under the administration which I have supported. But I feel this satisfaction, this pride, against my better judgment, and with as much circumspection as I can muster. The worst of us possess Buddha nature; a necessary killing is still a loss of life, and thus an occasion to reflect on both the truth of necessity and the moral burden of extinguishing a living being.
A note I'd like to add, in light of some bluster I've seen online this morning about the folly of treating OBL's body with any respect: So far as I believe anyone is deserving of a respectful burial, everyone is deserving of a respectful burial. Ours is not to judge whose flesh deserves special treatment. Either we eat all our dead, piss on all our dead, or do what we do now--address the matter culture by culture, even family by family, and hope that our institutions (particularly those of the state, who ostensibly represent the whole population) behave as respectfully toward even the worst of our spent meatbags (or those of our enemies) with the respect that the given meatbag's culture would offer it. Lest we forget, Achilles paid dearly for dragging Hector's body behind his chariot to shame the Trojans.
Don't get me wrong--I've no interest in canceling anyone's "celebration." I only ask that as we do so, we give some thought to what sort of a people we would wish to be.