Cancer is defined as the uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body. It begins with a tumor that we hope and pray is not large in size, is not malignant, one that the doctors can go in and remove before it spreads its tentacles and finds its way into every cell in the body, destroying all that is healthy and good.
When this unwanted growth is removed and we are told they got it all, we pray. Because we know that digging out the tumor is not enough. There will be days, weeks, maybe months of chemo and radiation treatment to make sure that the tentacles of this deadly disease have not spread and grown new roots in other regions of the body.
And even when it looks like the chemo and radiation have done their work, anyone who has ever been touched by cancer knows that for the rest of your days you need to be a bit more careful and a bit more vigilant than you were before. Periodic Pet Scans become a part of your life complete with prayer and the sweating out of the test results.
That is how I see the death of Osama Bin Laden. The tumor of terrorism has been removed, but that does not mean we go back to life as we knew it before. Chemo and radiation treatments will exist in the form of being more vigilant moving forward and taking better precaution to ward off future infection. The tumor is gone, but the disease still exists and we must be alert to keep it contained.
I learned of his death standing in the lobby of the Raleigh Hotel in South Beach somewhere in the vicinity of midnight on Sunday while chatting with several of the people I was traveling with. Another of our party stopped us and asked if we had heard. Osama Bin Laden had been caught. He was dead.
I am not one to rejoice in death or to believe in an eye for an eye philosophy. But I admit that what I felt at that moment was jubilance as well as an uncontrollable urge to find the nearest television and watch the events unfold.
Earlier that evening for a reason unknown to me I was recounting where I was on September 11, 2001. So when I heard this news, what I had experienced that day, living in New York City was fresh in my mind. The horror, the fear, the days and weeks after living in a city that jointly mourned the loss of 3000 lives as well as the loss of life the way we knew it to be. I was not surprised that I felt joy at the news of another's passing, that I felt triumph that the good guys had a win, that I felt proud of the strength of this country.
Osama Bin Laden's death will not bring back the lives lost, or the world that we lived in before 9/11 but it is symbolic that we can stop the spread of terrorist efforts. It is possible. We have removed the tumor and now we need to treat the area to eradicate any and all cells that have spread from that monstrous mass. And that, as in any cancer is cause for celebration.