What my hamstrings taught me about the death of Osama Bin Laden

Yesterday was a very, very strange day.

I woke up to see Facebook flooded with news–or celebration, rather–of Osama Bin Laden’s death. At first I was very confused about how to feel, but I knew that rejoicing just didn’t feel right. So, I did what I always do when I feel confused–I practiced yoga.

I have always been very fearful of tearing a hamstring while doing yoga. This is one of the most common yoga injuries and can keep you from practicing for a year or even longer. While going into forward folds I’m always very cautious, activating my quads and bending my knees slightly as to protect my hamstrings. But recently this fear has really gotten a hold of me, making me nervous and uneasy every time a hamstring opener is even mentioned. I was speaking to my teacher, Kelley, about this issue right before we were about to take a class. I explained my fears and she gave me some good advice about how to protect myself but also on how to let go of being so afraid.   Then, Amanda, the teacher of the class we were about to take, came up to me and said, “We’re doing hanumanasana today!”

Of course, The King of all hamstring openers.


If you start listening, you will realize that the universe gives you exactly what you need in every moment. Even if it scares the living shit out of you.

And that’s what this class did, despite my constant telling myself that I was okay and that my hamstrings are healthy and that they aren’t delicate, injury-prone things. I was just treating them that way out of fear. In fact, I barely stretched them at all, I didn’t go anywhere close to my edge, because I was scared. No progress was made.

Yesterday, the most notorious, fear-instilling terrorist was shot in the head (and let’s just say that for the sake of this post that he WAS in fact killed yesterday). After I got home from yoga, I saw an internet ad for a bar in Statesboro advertising: “Tonight: $1 Dead Laden shots! $1 Bloody Bearded Bastard shots! ALL NIGHT to celebrate!”

And that’s when I got really, really sad.

For me, it doesn’t feel right to rejoice in the death of ANYONE, no matter how much you disagree with their actions. Especially not with shots in their name.

As Facebook statuses became more opinionated, some saying that we shouldn’t be celebrating, others saying that we should, people started getting (virtually) attacked. We were doing what Americans do best: fighting over something that we shouldn’t be fighting about at all.

The videos of Americans across the country celebrating the death of Osama Bin Laden look eerily similar to the videos of groups celebrating 9/11. Actually, they are almost identical. This is what I don’t understand.

Having hatred and rejoicing at the death of another person is exactly what we have come to find so unpleasant about Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Yet, this is exactly how so many Americans acted yesterday. Honestly, I found it to be one of the most disappointing acts of “patriotism” this country has ever seen. I was utterly surprised at how foolish it all seemed…the death of this one man doesn’t mean shit. Not a damn thing.

Osama Bin Laden is a symbol–for fear, for terrorism, for anti-America. His death does not mean that any of these things are over. He is only one person, granted one very powerful person, but there are many other people in this world who share his views, maybe even more whole-heartedly, maybe even more maliciously. In that way, too, this man’s death is no reason for celebration.

My hamstrings barely got stretched yesterday because I was so afraid of getting hurt. I could feel the fear in my chest, in my stomach, churning and making me stiff. My jaw was clenched. My hamstring flexibility in no way progressed yesterday, in fact, because my practice was so stiff, I probably made them even tighter. I realize, though, that behind the fear of getting injured lies an even greater fear–the fear of losing my yoga practice. I so badly don’t want to be out a year. I so badly want to be able to practice every day. It’s funny though, because my fear is acting in the opposite way that I want it to–it’s holding me back, actually paralyzing me–and I’m very much acting like I am injured.

Americans celebrating death is very much working in the same way. We all want progress, we all want this devastatingly sad war to be over, for our troops to come home, for the military families to be reunited, and we all want the hatred and fear to stop. But by rejoicing and buying endless rounds of Bloody Bearded Bastards, we are doing the exact opposite. We are keeping the fear going, feeding the hatred in this world even more so, instilling terror even further.

We are acting in the way that we have so patriotically tried to claim that we are not.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Yogini
    May 03, 2011 @ 17:30:53

    I think that you are correct in saying no one should rejoice in the death of another. Two wrongs do not make a right, I think that we should not act like the people who did harm to us.
    I have lived the past several years fearing everything! What happened? I forgot how to live and enjoy life! Don’t let fear keep you in a box, break though and enjoy life.


  2. Anne Evans
    May 04, 2011 @ 09:43:53

    This is so full of insight. Thank you so much for writing. I recently found this quote and wanted to share it… although I am sure you have seen it:

    “I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
    – Martin Luther King Jr.

    I love you, G.


  3. Brii
    May 04, 2011 @ 12:32:30

    Georgie, thank you for putting into words exactly how I was feeling about the recent events. I more than sympathize and empathize with those who were affected by terroristic hate-mongering, but I simply cannot ever celebrate violence, hatred, or killing against another human being.

    Hope you’re doing well! I miss you!


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