As I watched him breathe out the last part of air, I thought: Is this the best thing I’ve ever done, or the worst thing I’ve ever done?


The Navy SEAL who shot and killed Osama Bin Laden is staying anonymous, but speaking out in a recent Esquire article (“The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden… Is Screwed) about how he’s unemployed and afraid for his wife and children’s lives.

About killing Bin Laden, he says:

And I remember as I watched him breathe out the last part of air, I thought: Is this the best thing I’ve ever done, or the worst thing I’ve ever done? This is real and that’s him.

If you’ve watched the recent film Zero Dark Thirty then you already have a picture in your head about how this killing went down. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s about how they found Bin Laden and how they killed him.

The movie ends with a similar sentiment as The Shooter’s above quote. In the last scene of ZD30, Jessica Chastain, who plays Mya the CIA agent who’s spent the last 12 years and her entire CIA career hunting down Bin Laden, boards an empty plane. In the last few moments before the movie ends something interesting happens.

After Mya sits down in the empty plane, she cries. It’s possible she’s finally shedding happy tears, or mourning the friends she lost in the war, or she’s simply having a cathartic moment. But I want to suggest an alternative interpretation to the moment, to the movie, and to the real life story that’s closely aligned to the questions of The Shooter.

I believe Mya is doubting whether it was all worth it. The years, the lives lost, the resources expended, and the eventual anti-climatic feeling of elation mixed with disgust.

Hunting down a man in order to kill him, regardless of his crimes, I think, will always force one to question the purpose of the particular/personal death, especially when the hunt comes at a great worldly cost.

Was this the best thing to ever happen to Mya? Or the worst?

I think the movie and the real life story want us to wrestle with the latter. In real life, Mya’s character did cry when she saw Bin Laden’s body. I think I would too if finding him was my life’s work.

This is not a question of whether or not a mastermind behind mass-murder should be brought to justice, that goes without saying. But the collateral damage becomes something more than ever imagined. It’s fair we ask the question. And then ask more questions…

Violence, in its many forms, raises for us questions about evil in our world that we would rather avoid asking. If we believe in a God, why does our God allow such evil to exist? If we believe in peace, when is it proper to resort to the violence of war? If we believe in a state of social equilibrium called justice, how do we restore it after violence has created chaos? (Tom Palaima, Higher Education)

As the Esquire article narrates, how does a Navy SEAL create a civilian/family life after war? As Zero Dark Thirty suggests, what’s a worthy life goal besides hunting down a man? And what we must consider about our own world, how do we restore it?

Writers Series: “Writing for a Living” by Amanda Fanger

This is a new series (different than the Creativity Series Part 2 that’s coming). You might be asking what’s up with all these serieses? I don’t know, they’re just fun to do. For this Series I asked some writers about the challenges they face in their daily lives while working a day job and writing. Thanks for taking part.

Today’s post is from Amanda Fanger. She grew up on a farm in Central South Dakota where she was homeschooled. She works for her hometown newspaper, reporting news and doing marketing, and tries to keep all the fictional stories in her head from spilling over into her workspace. On the side, she plays piano, reads, rides horseback and blogs about how she’s applying life lessons to her writing. Visit her at, Twitter, and Facebook.

Journalism. Fiction. Blogging.

I’ve been told that I’m one of the lucky ones who gets to write for a living, but I view these three as flaming torches – each torch representing a branch of my talent – that I must juggle while being careful to avoid burn.

For about as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a writer; my mindset has almost always been focused on becoming a published fiction author. It’s always been a passion burning deep within me.

The week before I graduated home-schooled high school I landed a writing job at my hometown newspaper. (I can only think God was responsible for getting me into the journalism field because of the specific series of events that happened within a precise timeframe.) It was a dream come true and a weight off the shoulders of a very apprehensive 18-year-old who had no idea what she was going to do with her life. I had prayed and God had answered with a telephone call from the newspaper’s editor.

She heard I liked to write. I heard she needed a reporter. She was borderline desperate for help and I was completely frantic for want of a direction in my life. The two of us struck a deal.

When I came to the newspaper, I had to totally rethink the way I wrote. Up to that point, I wrote fiction for my eyes only and with a deadline of someday. But journalism was a very different beast and I suddenly found myself writing for thousands of eyes with a deadline of Tuesday or else.

It was trial by fire, to be sure, especially because I hadn’t gone to journalism school and all I know of newspapering came from ‘on the job experience.’

During my first few years, I sometimes fumbled and the torch burned me, searing an endearing lesson into my hide. But all of the pain felt worth it when, in 2009, I was named Outstanding Young Journalist by my statewide newspaper association.

Finally, after five years into my career at the very newspaper that gave me my start, I realized I’d lost sight of what had drawn me into writing in the first place; fiction. My dream of becoming a fiction author was still as real to me as ever.

Finding my muse once more, I tried to pick up on my stories where I’d left off and failed. The stories had moved on and I was forced to start from scratch.

As frustrating as it was to realize that part of me had forgotten how to write fiction, I also discovered that I’d gotten better; there were lessons about writing that I’d picked up from the newspaper. I now wrote in a consistent voice; brought characters to life on the page; and my brain was exploded with new ideas for background and settings after being given the opportunity to hear so many real-life stories first-hand while reporting.

Excited by what I’d discovered and the possibilities I knew awaited, I threw myself into the frenzy of the work and started a blog, hoping to share my newfound knowledge with other writers. Looking at my increasing number of blog followers, I take comfort that at least these few readers have found worth in the words I write.

Although I report hometown news, write fiction and blog about it all, when people ask me what I do for a living, I say I’m a writer because I cannot imagine my life without this daily task.

There is simply a fire burning deep within me that won’t let me stop.

I feel like I have your Christmas gifts wrapped in the closet and it’s still November

Bereshit Bara Courageous creativity in the beginning

I feel like I have Christmas gifts for you wrapped in the closet and it’s still November. I’m so excited to post our 13 Creatives meditations starting in June. And already I’m receiving links from YOU READERS who are also participating and extending the conversation. I’ve already read a handful of inspiring examples of Courageous Creatives and I can’t wait to also share those posts with the rest of us. I think you will also be challenged and inspired.

I’m grateful for the gift of your attention.

As a thank you, feel free to send me a note (rossgale4 at gmail dot com) about what creative projects you’re working on. A story or a poem or an essay or whatever. I’d love to read it and it’s the least I can do. If you haven’t subscribed by email over to the right, I encourage you to do so.

Please let me know if you’ll be participating in the Creativity Blog Series “Bereshit Bara.” Feel free to write and post and send me the link as soon as you like. I’ll be sharing them all starting in June.

• This Sunday is Mother’s Day and I’ll be posting a short meditation from my mom on facing an empty nest and her latest trip to the art store.

• And then on Monday I’m sharing a huge treat, a guest post from a former collegiate basketball player now journalist and writer, Kristen Dalton, who’s reviewing Jonah Lehrer’s Imagine: How Creativity Works. This is quite a gift. The following is to help you get to know her a little bit:

A Manifesto for the Simple Scribe – Tim Radford’s 25 Commandments for Journalists

9. So if an issue is tangled like a plate of spaghetti, then regard your story as just one strand of spaghetti, carefully drawn from the whole. Ideally with the oil, garlic and tomato sauce adhering to it. The reader will be grateful for being given the simple part, not the complicated whole. That is because (a) the reader knows life is complicated, but is grateful to have at least one strand explained clearly, and (b) because nobody ever reads stories that say “What follows is inexplicably complicated …”

25. Writers have a responsibility, not just in law. So aim for the truth. If that’s elusive, and it often is, at least aim for fairness, the awareness that there is always another side to the story. Beware of all claims to objectivity. This one is the dodgiest of all…

(via the Guardian)

The Southwest Community Connection Faith Forum Update

Since I don’t get the chance to pick up a copy of Christian News Northwest anymore I have to switch my local newspaper update to The Southwest Community Connection. I want to point out the Faith Forum articles in the October and November issues.

October featured Scott Kolbet, the pastoral associate at St. John Fisher Catholic Church. He talked about the word mercy and its Latin root misercordia which means “taking the misery of others into one’s own heart.”  Kolbet writes, “A merciful God takes our miseries into his heart. If we are merciful, we are taking the miseries of others into our hearts…It is about God being present in my life and taking my life, my miseries and my joys into himself.” 

On the complete opposite spectrum, the November issue featured Andrea Furber, a certified Pranic Healer, who talked about moving our hands in long circular motions and “removing energetic blockages that are hindering the flow of fresh, clean energy into the energy field of the person who came for healing. This fresh energy allows the body to do more rapidly what it always does–heal itself.”

I would much rather have the mercy of a loving God then me waving my hands around trying to heal myself. What about you?