I wrote this last night as the preamble to my weekly NYC innovation events newsletter:
Osama Bin Ladin is dead.
I’m not sure what to say. It’s 2AM and I’ve been watching coverage of worldwide reaction. In NYC, there is a lot of cheering, countered by the stark reminders of those who lost loved ones in 9/11 and soldiers halfway across the world that this will not bring anyone back. It’s not even clear how many, if at all, lives will be saved from from the elimination of one man in a decentralized organization.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to feeling a deep pride and satisfaction—because when you get hurt, you want to strike back. It’s human nature, for better or worse.
President Obama, in his speech, said, “Tonight we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to.”
You have to hope that’s true considering the amount of money we spent on fighting terror and how much of a priority we’ve made it these last ten years over a host of other things.
My question now is: What are we going to set our minds to now?
The war on terror isn’t over, not by a longshot, but it will slowly take a back seat in our collective consciousness. The death of Osama Bin Ladin will undoubtedly mark the end of a chapter in our history in the way that media and society neatly gathers time into such overly simplistic demarcations. It will still go on, but what we have now is a unique opportunity to clamor for something else besides the head of one man. We can unify around something besides a U-S-A chant—something we can all take active part in? Education reform? Clean energy?
I watched a little league game today being played by kids born after 9/11. Will they spend their lives working on new technologies that clean up our environment and make it a better place to live or will they get called off to fight against new enemies across the globe? I hope one day we can look back at May 1, 2011 as the day the US stopped playing cops and robbers, and finished, on a victorious note, the last nearly 100 years of fighting around the world. Let’s stop making tools of war, and instead make things that make war unnecessary.
I’m dedicating this little preamble to my junior high school and fellow Regis High School classmate Paul Battaglia, who was killed on 9/11. Paul wound up in finance but who undoubtedly would have pulled out to join the tech and innovation scene we have going now. We used to work together to run the computer lab when I was in the 7th grade and he was in 8th and spent a half a day installing Windows 3.1 on all our computers back in 1992. I hope today’s events provide some bit of comfort and solace to his family.