Transcending Hektor and Achilles: The Death of Osama Bin Laden

I try and keep these blogs topical if possible, and in light of recent events I’ve been thinking about the Iliad. The past few days have been a maelstrom emotions for Americans; relief, closure, anger, rage…etc…Two looming controversies remain. Where are the death photos? and why was his body disposed of quickly and respectfully in accordance with Islamic tradition?

Just recently, the President has made the decision not to release the photos. But what about the whole burial at sea? In my honest opinion I predict that even if the photos get released, there will be no end to conspiracy theories? Why? For the same reason that we still have groups who refute the moon landing.

One of the most significant events of the moon landing, was the first photographic evidence that the earth was round. This may seem like a small discovery, but to the flat-earthers, it was, well- earthshaking. If you truly don’t see the significance of this discovery, then go and speak with a flat-earther. You’ll find they are very passionate about their belief and will have a seemingly rational answer for everyone of your arguments! But when you provide hard evidence like a round photo of the Earth, you have them cornered. The logical answer is to say the photo is a fraud and the events leading up to taking the picture are also a fraud. Now I’m not saying that every person who thinks the moon landing was a fake believes the Earth is flat, but I do think that belief contributes to the conspiracy. But what does that have to do with Bin Laden?

We hate him. He is the symbol of all that is evil. He killed indiscriminately and he must die. Our emotions are incredibly tied up in the mans demise and for many of us, a respectful burial at sea just isn’t good enough. Just like the photos of Earth, the news that Bin Laden was laid to rest respectfully goes against what we want to believe. Some of us will actually hope he still lives, only so that he can be punished properly.  The retribution is not at sea. He should be stoned, hung upside down, put in a cage and left to rot. Maybe, just maybe, we should tear holes in his ankles, run a leather thong through them and drag his body behind a tank. Is this sounding familiar?

In the Iliad, Achilles finally defeats his arch-enemy Hektor. He takes up the body, runs a leather thong through the ankles, and drags the body around the city of Troy showing extreme disrespect. It wasn’t until the God’s interfered that Hektor’s father Priam was able to retrieve the body from Achilles. Now one thing I want to make clear.

I am NOT implying that Bin Laden is Hektor.

Hektor is a good man. In fact, this is a bit of a Mythology 101 conversation. Who has the true heroic attributes in the Iliad? Hektor. He is a warrior, he is wise, he loves his family, he demonstrates restraint; a pretty solid dude.

What I am implying is that we had an opportunity to become Achilles.

Achilles is by no means the perfect Hero. In fact he is a bit of a whiny brat! He is a fierce and powerful warrior, but he throw tantrums. He sits in his tent and pouts while a plague kills his fellow men. He continues to do nothing while his best friend Patroklus fights in his place and gets killed. And he brutally disrespects the body of the enemy.

So what am I getting at? I believe that something very symbolic occurred when we quietly slipped that body into the sea. We could have done worse, and I think it would have been generally excepted. After everything done to us, our allies would have been understanding to whatever gruesome actions we decided to take. But we didn’t. We could have, and we didn’t.

In taking the high road, we cast away the negative attributes of Achilles and took on the positives of Hektor. Amalgamating into something new! We are the powerful warriors. We are the just. We are Americans, and I am proud to be one.

I understand there is a lot of pain out there. Victims and families who have only just begun to heal. I know that not everyone will agree with me and I completely respect that. My heart goes out to each and every person who lost someone because of this horrible man. Hopefully now, some of us can begin to find closure.