Just under ten years ago, I moved to Hawaii. We walked into the airport in Newark, checked in, and proceeded to the security checkpoint. I plopped my bag - 10-pound laptop, toiletries bag, and all - onto the x-ray belt, dumped my pocket change and keys into a little bowl that was passed around the magnetometer, showed my boarding pass to the security guard, and strolled through the metal detector.
A few months later, the world changed. Tonight, it may or may not have changed again. It certainly did not change back.
The past ten years have taken the United States, as a nation, in a direction that feels very, very wrong. We have compromised our freedoms to secure a limited amount of security. We have launched unjust wars for reasons that defy comprehension. The terrorists hurt us on September 11, 2001, and our pain brought out the worst in us.
We have yet to reclaim much of what we lost. It is far from certain we ever will.
Osama bin Laden did not cause the worst of the damage that was inflicted on America following the September 11th attacks. His death will not, in and of itself, repair any of it. It will not undo TSA pat-downs, or the Patriot Act, or the war in Iraq.
It will not bring anyone back to life.
It took far too long, and it cost us far too much in far too many ways for me to feel like dancing in the streets just because Osama is dead. It doesn't feel like a victory - it just feels like much less of a defeat than usual.