Just the other day, one of my professors, referring to how organizational change is dependent on the passing of generations (among other things), quipped "Things don't change overnight, things change when people die." That little aphorism is morbidly apt for today, the day they announced Osama Bin Laden is dead. OBL was allegedly found and killed near Islamabad in Pakistan, inciting celebrations all over the United States and much of the free world, especially at 'Ground Zero', where the twin towers once stood, proud symbols of America's economic and corporate power. To all those who lost their loved ones on September 11th, 2001, and in the resulting 'War on Terror', the news of OBL's death brings a sense of closure, of justice finally being done. And yet, I see no cause for celebration. All I see is another dead human being, another tragedy to add to the already long list of casualties of life in the 20th century. As one internet-wit puts it, "Lonely, deranged, religious man with kidney disease murdered in Pakistan." It is another matter that the man in question was directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people, but at the end of the day, he was just a man. The organization he led, Al Qaeda, literally means the 'way' or the 'basis', perhaps best translated as 'status quo'. Al Qaeda seeks to do what all fascist regimes have attempted (and failed) to do, to establish total control over an entire population. But history shows us that the will of the people may be suppressed for a while, but it can never be broken. Humans are an adaptable, resilient species, by nature predisposed to exercising our basic freedoms. The recent revolutions in Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Yemen and Bahrain are just the beginning of a global shift in power structures, in the way authority is exercised, and governments serve their people. A better day, and a better way of doing things is on the horizon.
No, I would not celebrate the death of OBL. I would celebrate the death of what he stood for, what all tyrants, all dictatorships, all authoritarian establishments stand for- the culture of hate and mistrust for one's fellow man. I would celebrate the end of ignorance, the end of violence, the end of the commonplace, everyday hatred that seems to reside in every human heart (but really has no place there). And I believe that I won't have to wait much longer.
tl;dr: Things don't change overnight. Things don't change when people die. Things change when people let go of the old ways, and embrace nobler ideals than the ones they are accustomed to. Imagine a better world... then make it so.