I was all set to write this week’s column about hairballs. You, know, the gut-wrenching bane of fastidiously clean cats. I came up with the topic out of guilt. I should have written about it last week, but the royal hullabaloo distracted me and I missed National Hairball Awareness Day – a blip on the calendar I think we all agree is worthy of our attention.
Even if you are not a cat.
So I figured hairballs would get their time in the spotlight this week. Then another not-so-royal curveball came my way. You know what they say: news happens.
According to my young son, hairballs have been trumped – again. Not by the Donald, but by the founder of al Qaeda.
“He’s a dirty rat who hurt a lot of people,” my son told me first thing Monday morning. “And we finally got him.”
Yes we did. We got him. Exclamation point. Osama bin Laden: the man who hurt a lot of people (in the words of my innocent young son when describing the horrors of 9/11).
The man who spent the last 10 years running from justice finally met his maker when confronted by the firing power of our Navy Seals. He was hunkered down in a posh neighborhood with at least one of his wives in attendance.
Bin Laden had been hunkered and hiding for a decade. Hiding in remote caves (or preferably mansions in upscale neighborhoods). Hiding in countries he couldn’t call home. Hiding behind religion and rhetoric.
So today we take pleasure in knowing we got him. None of our troops or civilians were injured. It was a successful mission all around. People are cheering in the streets. It’s always good to be an American. Some days are just better than others.
Still, I feel more than a twinge of sadness. Not because of this victory or of the death of Osama bin Laden, but because circumstances can exist to make good, normal people have cause to celebrate death.
Adolph Hitler. Ted Bundy. Saddam Hussein. Joseph Stalin. Jeffrey Dahmer. Osama bin Laden. There is no doubt evil walks in our world. Knowledge of this makes us shudder and when we eliminate something so unthinkable it seems right to dance in the streets.
Except it’s a hollow celebration, because the truth that comes with evil sits like a foreign object, wedged in our guts: a hairball of sorts.
Hairballs grow gradually – layer by layer. They accumulate as result of a cat keeping itself clean on the outside, while the dirty hair piles up inside. The same can be said of evil. It builds up, festering and growing. It becomes larger and more powerful as it feeds upon itself, until it becomes a name on a page recognized by those of us afraid to forget history, lest it repeat itself.
The best thing that can happen with a hairball (if there is a best thing) is to hack it up and spit it out into the open so it can be done away with once and for all.
There’s that, and there’s National Hairball Awareness Day. It’s good to be aware of the things we want to prevent. This goes for hairballs as well as bad people who want to hurt us. Like knowledge, awareness is power. Times that by 10 when the Navy Seals have your back.
Jill Pertler, award-winning syndicated columnist and author of “The Do-It-Yourselfer’s Guide to Self-Syndication” is collecting fans on Facebook on her Slices of Life page. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org ; or visit her website at http://marketing-by-design.home.mchsi.com/ .
Read last week’s column: Kindness worth a tail wag