When I was a child, every year around Easter one of the broadcast television networks would air The Wizard of Oz. In a time before VCRs and DVD players, movies were something special, and we looked forward to the annual showing.
Even though I watched it year after year, I never stopped celebrating with all of Oz when the Wicked Witch died at the end. She was so mean and brought such terror to everyone. No one was sorry to see her die. “Ding dong, the witch is dead, the Wicked Witch, the Wicked Witch. Ding dong the Wicked Witch is dead.”

Last December, however, I saw the Broadway musical Wicked, based on the novel, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, in which he reimagines the Frank L Baum’s story from the land of oz.

{SPOILER ALERT} As the musical was drawing to a close, and Elphaba (the name given to the Wicked Witch) apparently dies, there was still the celebrating, still the singing, and yet as an audience member, I didn’t feel the same song in my heart as when I had watched the movie as a child.
Even as Elphaba seemed to disintegrate upon contact with the bucket of water, I was thinking about the shallowness of Glenda, the treachery of the Wizard, the ambivalence of the Munchkins, the loyalty of the winged monkeys. I was almost glad the witch didn’t really die. It was all turned around. This wasn’t how I was supposed to feel.
Yesterday, it felt a little bit like watching The Wizard of Oz as the world celebrated the news that internationally-most-wanted Osama bin Laden went down in his own compound under American fire power. He was an enemy we all hated; no one could mourn his death. In New York, in Washington, in Boston, impromptu rallies broke out as Americans cheered the death of their greatest nemesis. Apparently, even the US dollar rallied at the news.
“Ding dong, Osama’s dead!”
As the details unfolded throughout the day of Osama bin Laden’s five-year bunkering and the fire fight that brought him down, I felt relief – I still cower every time I hear an airplane flying too low. I thought about the victims of the embassy bombings, the Cole naval ship bombing, the 911 airplane crashes, and felt vindication for them. 
But I also thought about the hubris and missteps of America in our war against terror over the past 10 years. I remembered the Muslim man I saw last December at the airport receiving an overly thorough pat-down. I considered my own heart that is just God’s grace away from being a terrorist in it’s own right. And though I wasn’t sad to see him go, I was sad.
This wasn’t how I was supposed to feel upon hearing of the death of Osama bin Laden.

We’re all processing what it means for an enemy to die. Click on the links below for some other responses:

Photo by AMagill, used by permission from the Flickr collection under the Creative Commons License.