DING DONG! THE WITCH IS DEAD…
Who doesn’t know that song and lyric made famous by Judy Garland and the Munchkins in the classic (and my single favorite movie ever) The Wizard of Oz.
WHICH OLD WITCH?
THE WICKED WITCH!
DING DONG! THE WICKED WITCH IS DEAD…
In thinking about the death of Osama Bin Laden – all week – and watching the spontaneous celebrations that sprang up celebrating his demise, I must admit that this lyric kept running through my mind as I cheered alongside.
When I Binged the song, looking for the original clip (audio tracks disabled for copyright issues), I wasn’t surprised to see that the tune and its general meaning had already been co-opted into popular parody around Osama – Ding Dong Osama’s Dead…
I also watched the gatherings protesting the raid or celebrating his “martyrdom” and must admit the tune intensified in my mind.
However, to be truthful – I was uncomfortable with my own reactions. Didn’t I look like the crowds we watched way back when “celebrating” the fall of the Twin Towers on 9/11 and joyously rejoicing for the deaths?
I started thinking of my friend Andrew (read his story here), who could have saved himself in the Tower but ran back and died saving lives, and I felt hollow. Not sad, not elated that revenge had finally come…just hollow.
An Op-Ed piece in The New York Times (read here) caught my eye that suggested that the celebrations were actually OK – a natural outpouring – maybe even an important part of our human DNA – but I was still uncomfortable…although I got the revenge part.
And I was comforted by the respectful decision not to show any pictures. – “We don’t trot out this stuff as trophies.”
In trying to better articulate my feelings, I looked to Elie Wiesel – Holocaust survivor, Nobel Laureate, called by the Norwegian Nobel Committee a “Messenger to Mankind,” to see what he might have said that could guide me.
“Only fanatics — in religion as well as in politics — can find a meaning in someone else’s death.”
And there you have it.
The lesson – the meaning – it seems to me is not in his death, but rather in what we do as Human Beings to eradicate Wicked Witches wherever they may be.
I again turned to Elie. Listen:
“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
I am only human – I’m still humming that tune as I write this – but I don’t want to mistake the feel good of revenge for the power of speaking out – for taking sides like Andrew did….
One last word from Elie, quoting from Ecclesiastes that, in my mind, sums up the human spontaneity and need for emotional outlet with his deeper and more difficult to achieve thinking on the long term state of Humankind (read his article here):
“There is a time to mourn and a time to rejoice…let us rejoice and hope that this will be a time of rededication to the ideals of peace, cooperation, and mutual response among all nations, all concepts that bin Laden sought vainly to destroy.”
What do you think?