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For Whom The Bell Tolls

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were:

any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

John Donne
Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, no. 17 (Meditation) 1624 (published)

Much of the world is cheering the death of Osama Bin Laden.  I am not here to judge whether another man should live or die so I will leave that discussion for other forums.  What the Osama Bin Laden saga reveals to me, however, is a growing divide throughout the world.  It is a divide based on ideologies that have created an enormous communication gap between segments of our world.

We are not the dominant species on this planet due to our ability to kill one another.  We are the dominant species because we have a unique ability to work with one another.  We are the ultimate pack animals.  We do it better than any other species on the planet.  We form groups, effectively communicate and ensure the survival of the species through an incredibly advanced ability to interact.

The Osama Bin Laden saga is one of the most glaring examples of a communication breakdown in modern times.  Diametrically opposing ideological beliefs have led both sides to make extreme decisions and to take even more extreme actions.  I am certainly not here to defend the actions of Osama Bin Laden, however, I do wonder if the United States is setting a good precedent by placing Osama Bin Laden on the pedestal of martyrdom.  His death does not represent some great victory for the United States.  Rather, it represents the continuing divide in our world.  It represents our inability to effectively work with one another and resolve our issues without resorting to barbaric actions.  I like to think that the involvement of the United States in the Middle East is having a positive impact on this communication gap, however, I know there are millions of people who do not see it that way.  And they are using the death of Osama Bin Laden to increase this divide.

You might ask what in the world this all has to do with the investment universe? Well, in our very own backyard we see an increasing divide in our political arena.  And it is leading to an ever increasingly unstable economic environment and hardship for all.  What was once the species’ greatest ability (our ability to effectively communicate and work with one another) now appears to be the cause of much of our greatest hardship.  Our own ideologies have pitted two sides firmly against one another – almost to the point of not being able to work together.

To me, the death of Osama Bin Laden represents a Pyrrhic Victory of sorts.   And while this terrible man may have been well deserving of his end, I have to wonder if his death represents progress or is more representative of a larger step backwards for our species as a whole?


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