Present at the celebrations …

A reader writes in response to one of my recent blog posts:

As someone who was celebrating last night I found your blog to have missed something and slightly condescending. I was not there to celebrate a death, I was celebrating the end to an evil force in the world, as I’m confident the rest of the partakers were. Many of the people I spoke there agreed that it wasn’t about a death but an end. To reduce the celebrations to a being motivated by a ‘killing’ is to see the ‘rally’ quite superficially.
You also reduced the celebration to a drunken frat party, which it was not at all. Sure there were college kids there and I’m sure some of them had beer but my experience was quite different. I saw people of all ages, races, etc. smiling, hugging, singing, enjoying the fact that there is one less force in this world out to do evil.
I’m sorry you have so little faith in your fellow Americans.

Thanks for offering your perspective. Obviously, I wasn’t there, but was reflecting on the images shown in the UK on television. Obviously, any report involves editing and is limited – and this one showed a lot of beer and actually did seem a bit like a drunken frat party. I’m glad to hear your report that suggests other people were there with a better frame of mind.
The whole situation has made me think about something that has been said by a number of people, namely that “justice has been done.”
I wonder what we mean by justice. My concern is that for some people, justice is only punitive. In some cases, it seems that the word “revenge” could be substituted for justice with little loss or change of meaning. My sense is that true justice is restorative, not merely punitive.
Having said that, of course, I do share your relief that bin Laden is no longer planning violence. But I grow concerned when we celebrate violence as a way of defeating violence. As Dr. King said, I don’t think that works in the long run. The more “successful” we deem violence too be, the more likely it will be our tool of choice when facing our next threat. You can see where that leads.