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You wake up some mornings, and not much has changed. You slept poorly, and the coffeemaker picks this inopportune moment to malfunction. You have two french presses, but you forget when you pour that one of them doesn't work that well, and you end up having to strain the grounds, and the resultant cup is bitter.

And Osama bin-Laden is dead.

You've been a pacifist for 23 years, don't condone war or the death penalty. You hold this view the way an alcoholic doesn't drink: because you've seen violence up close, because you've lost people to it. Because your heart is irrevocably stained by it, and all of your life has been a struggle to find a way forward. You know in your heart that you are a violent man, who chooses not to be violent. You struggle with this daily. You talk to God every morning, and ask Him for strength. This has become your routine. But so has the morning cup of coffee, and this morning, that's out-of-kilter.

You kiss your wife before you go to work, caress her cheek. There's construction on your street, so you have to drive a different way. You stop at a corporate coffee chain for a better cup of coffee. Not your usual choice, but this morning, you're glad for its presence. You buy a couple donuts, too, even though you mostly gave up sweets after serious dental work. It just sounds comforting this morning.

And Osama bin-Laden is dead, and the rational part of your brain tells you that it means little. No matter how monstrous, he's just a man. You know that al-Qaeda is basically a corporate franchise operation, that its individual parts should, theoretically, function fine independently. You know that there are miles to go still in the war, the real war, where the conflicting ideologies in the Muslim World -- the jihadists and the totalitarian dictators, the democratic movement and the people who only want to live and work in peace -- are locked in a struggle to decide the entire region's future. Your rational brain understands that Afghanistan and Iraq and Libya, that the U.S. Wars and the Arab Spring, are all really one war, even moreso than the U.S. struggles against Germany, Japan and Italy were one war.

But you think of your friends who lost loved ones on that horrible day, how you yourself had to face the real possibility that one of your oldest friends was gone, although you got lucky that day. Lucky. The word is bitter coffee.

You find a dark joy that he's gone, fully cognizant that that joy is a violence brewing in your heart, the sort of thing you've worked hard for years to exorcise. You acknowledge it, because to do otherwise would cause it to fester.

And Osama bin-Laden is dead. And you know full-well it changes little. Or maybe it changes everything, but either way, you're glad of it, and at the same time resentful of that feeling, knowing full well what grows from that seed of hate when planted.

You drink your corporate coffee. You get back to work.


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Victor David Infante

April 2017

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