Struggling with Morality

I was chilling out last night, playing some Eve Online (a terrible spaceship game) when the news broke: The President of the United States was to make an announcement about national security. It was 10:35pm. This had to be big news, since it couldn’t wait until morning.

I continued to talk to my fellow goons on jabber, while watching the live stream from MSNBC on one of my monitors. Slowly the news came out, Osama Bin Laden was dead. Fox News at first reported that he was killed a week ago, but we pretty much agreed that the President would have probably waited until tomorrow to announce if that was the case. After about an hour, President Obama popped up on my screen to inform me about what we all now know what happened. Osama Bin Laden was dead, killed by a US specops team. Facebook went nuts, twitter went nuts, pretty much everyone went nuts.

Now to the morality of it. No, I’m not talking about the morality of ordering what was basically an assassination on another human, but the morality of feeling joy, at his death.

If you’ve been following the news, you saw people in the streets celebrating, shouting, chanting, singing, all because one tremendous shitbag was killed, and I don’t know how to feel about that.

Revenge is human nature. Someone gets you, you have to get them back. It’s especially common in Eve, where some people plot their revenge for weeks, months, or possibly even years. You feel good when you’re able to exact your revenge, anyone who says they don’t is lying, or something’s wrong with their brain. It’s programmed into you, and hey, it’s just a video game, right?

Last night, it wasn’t just a video game, but goddammit, I still felt good. Even though very little of it touched me personally, I felt, not a sense of revenge, but accomplishment. We accomplished something. (For those of you who watch The Daily Show, Jon Stewart said the same thing tonight, fuck you Jon Stewart, I had this half written before I ever watched your hilariously entertaining show.)

Now, as I mentioned, students were “raging”, people were gathering and chanting all because the world’s biggest cockmonger was shot in the eye (in the fucking eye!) and I really don’t know how I feel about it. That’s probably why I’m writing this, is I’m trying to sort out those feelings.

On September 11th, 2001, we saw people in the middle east dancing and celebrating much in the same way many Americans were last night, and it was really just salt in the wound. How should I feel about that? Does that not make us just as bad as them? Or are they, in hindsight, not as bad as we labeled them?

Roughly 80% of the United States population, according to the 2010 census are religious. I know the Christian Bible and Jewish Torah tell you not to rejoice in the death of an enemy, and I’m pretty sure other such moral guidelines exist for other 10% of spiritual peoples. However, I’m an atheist, so I’m not guided by principles written down thousands of years ago. That doesn’t mean I don’t have a set of morals though.

Video games give me a bit of an outlet, I guess. I can be immoral and uncouth in Eve. It’s almost expected of me. Heck, there are plenty of games where you get to play the bad guy, and you’re even rewarded for it. I think it’s a grand outlet, and helps keep the monster in check in real life.

This isn’t a video game though. This is real life.

Will those that were out partying last night eventually look back and say “You know, I shouldn’t have done that!” or will they find a way to justify it by saying “I was celebrating my country, not the death of another human.” It still seems a bit hollow to me, and I genuinely feel bad and quite embarassed because of it.

Even writing this, I can’t get the smug look off my face.  I’m happy the fucknugget is dead, and a quote from Mark Twain that’s been passed around the internet like herpes the last day really sums it up:

“I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.”

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