May 2, 2011

A Little Bit of a Teaser, and A Little Bit of Commentary

So a bit of shameless self promotion: I've got some good posts lined up over the next couple of weeks, including:

  • An interview with Rob at Prism Brewing on business models in craft beer and the danger of branding
  • An conversation with Josh Lampe at SSM Creative about what it's like to do a renovation of a 15-year-old brewery brand
  • The Session post on a massive beer and cheese pairing
  • A conversation with Ruckus Brewing about what it's like to go from the marketing business to the craft beer business
Like I said, I'm pretty pumped. Hope you'll find it interesting.

Then there's the rest of the world.

Ed note: What's about to follow is largely unrelated to beer. Stop reading unless you care what I think about world politics.

I used to be a political blogger, and, like a lot of people, I woke up today to some stunning news that left me feeling our world is just a little bit different. I refer, of course, to Osama bin Laden's death.

Like many of you, I've seen the coverage and social media-fueled discussion. I've seen beer bloggers chime in with a small acknowledgement or a gleeful toast. I've seen the videos of the Philadelphia fans at the baseball game chanting U-S-A as if we'd just won a really huge hockey game. I've seen the many jokes about how people will not believe Osama is dead unless they see his long-form death certificate.

I love this country, and I don't mourn Osama bin Laden's death. His actions and choices were despicable, and even his sympathizers would agree he knew their likely cost. There was no better ending to his story available than the one he got, and I hope for some who have played roles - no matter how passive or tangential - in the often-nebulous War on Terror, this affords some element of closure. 

But I can not share in joy, or raise a toast, to his killing. Even if we agree that the death of one man after ten years is an achievement or a type of victory, I think it's important to remember that one huge thing that separates good guys from bad guys is how one feels about violence - even necessary violence. Bin Laden rejoiced in the death he caused, and too often, large portions of the world rejoiced with him, seeing well-executed thuggery as vindication that some divine presence was stamping the murderers with approval. The SEALs and men who killed bin Laden and others this weekend were not murderers, and the reason is that they did not wish to kill anyone for their own reasons, but because the path to a safe, stable world is often paved with unfortunate actions.

This killing was necessary, and bin Laden made it necessary. I'm glad it's over. But the fact that we were capable killers no more means that God smiles on us than a few hijackers meant God smiled on al Qaeda. If we enjoy divine favor, it must be because we do not enjoy the violence we must, from time to time, undertake.

As I sit here in the comfort of the first world, watching a large television with my cat and enjoying a Southern Tier Hop Sun, planning the next few days of a pretty good life and daydreaming of adventures in a country full of beautiful and educated women, I can't help but think of how many people, had they lived under the caliphate bin Laden planned, would have been subjected to a life without the things that bring me such joy. I can't help but also think all the people whose lives were ended or ruined by the wars resulting from bin Laden's actions. So bin Laden's death is not for me a cause of celebratory joy, but instead a grim reminder of how much damage just one person can do if he starts to believe that his personal desires for vengeance are so sanctioned by God that any collateral suffering is worth it.

It's a better world today, but we've got a long way farther to go before I'll feel comfortable celebrating.


  1. I hadn't planned to take part in this conversation because I feel so very little emotion over this "mini victory" after 20 years of thousands of killings (on both sides of the war). I feel almost exactly as you do and you've put together what seems to me one of the best-written opinions on today's world as opposed to yesterday's and I couldn't help but say so.

    Hate begets violence begets violence begets hate. I'm not naive and I understand that a world of hate/bad pitted against love/good will likely exist as long as billions of people share the same planet. But, it doesn't mean we have to like, or celebrate, eye-for-an-eye revenge-style killings. For everyone affected personally by the terrible events perpetrated by this evil force, nothing changed today when they awoke.

    May we all learn from the past and become more civilized, learning how to appreciate each other and live together more peacefully.

    Now, back to our beer discussions :)

  2. Thanks for the kind words Bryan. Well put. We're very fortunate to live in such a great (beer) area in such a great (beer) state in such a great (beer) country.

  3. Outstanding post, Greg. You nailed it. Of course, in my case, you already knew you were preaching to the choir.