We’ve talked before about how crises—of the national or smaller-scale variety—suddenly turn strangers into friends. I’ve had fewer chances to witness how celebrations have the same effect. The closest I’ve come to seeing streets of celebration turn into friendship breeding grounds was when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup last year, or when the Cubs almost (almost!) made a run my senior year of college.
The spontaneous festivities that broke out in front of the White House (pictured above) and Ground Zero last night seemed, from what I could tell from my living room, to be those celebrations times a thousand. Maybe not that many more people, but with emotions certainly that much more intense.
The inevitable result of this will be bursts of friendship between strangers. Not lifelong friendships, necessarily, but those little moments of shared joy and comaradarie. Likely, as I write this, two strangers in Washington D.C. are sharing a high five. Or some seemingly unrelated New Yorkers are singing the national anthem together, side by side.
Watching the crowds gather on the news, I was moved at the sudden bonding of Americans. “There’s a spontaneous outpouring of emotion,” one New Yorker told CNN. “It’s nice to come down here and feel a sense of community.” At 2 am EST today, the crowd was still growing with no sign of letting up.
Why is it that, when world-changing news breaks, then everyone is best friends. But on a normal day it’s so hard? Certainly, the President’s news was worth celebrating. But what is it about these moments that suddenly compels people to forget their usual judgments and wariness of others, and instead embrace their fellow Americans?
6 responses to “Celebrations Turn Into Friendship”
Excellent blog post. I too was moved by strangers coming together like best friends.
I think it’s just human nature when a group of people are all on the same page in beliefs. It happens at sporting events too, and other places. It’s this huge emotion and wanting–needing–to share it with as many people as possible.
Not that this is the point of your post, but I was a bit saddened by the celebrations. After all, a man is dead. Even if he was evil and the cause of much heartache, is it right to celebrate? Don’t we feel outraged when we see right-wing muslims celebrate the death of americans? I know that is different, they’re celebrating the death of someone just because they’re american not because of what they have specifically done – but still, something in me cringes to see anyone’s death marked as a festive, happy occasion.
I think you are missing the point Nico–at least for some people. I can’t speak for everyone but many of us are celebrating JUSTICE and KARMA. (I discuss this in my blog in more details here at WordPress).
I personally didn’t “party-hardy” like some did, but I felt a relief that justice was done. I am saddened for all of the innocent people who were murdered because of that man. Bin Laden has said many times in the past he planned on killing more Americans…I was justice and self-defense–military law style. I care about my country’s people more than about Bin Laden. That’s how many of us feel.
Perhaps some people are overdoing it in celebration, but come on now, surely you can understand, whether you agree with that kind of celebration or not, you should be able to understand. People get their kind of emotional response out in different ways. I personally would not look down on anyone for it.
I don’t think Nico was looking down at anyone. I interpreted her post as her feelings towards another human…period. I too was a bit relieved when I heard the news because a threat had been removed. However, the impromptu gatherings and chantings seemed a lot like tap dancing on a man’s grave. In our society most people believe “an eye for an eye” because justice…is right, right? Well no one is thinking what his death is going to bring. In the US we’re “celebrating,” while his cohorts are most likely plotting against us using the images of Americans “celebrating” as fuel and reasoning why the US should be destroyed. It’s all cyclical.
I think people realize what could happen…There is a lot of emotion involved and i think people express it in different ways. Our enemies will always find a way to try and harm us. Bin Laden even said he wanted to kill more Americans. Not sure if you knew that….
Historically, people have always been this way in celebration, even in biblical times.. It is what it is and I doubt people will change to one way of “proper etiquette” in dealing with death emotionally.
Similar to funerals. Some people react in ways that may offend others–like joking about their death (even though they may even love the person that died)–but that’s just their way of expressing their emotions.
Nico, I agree with your sentiments. I wrote about it a little on my blog last night, and there was just an article in the Huffington Post about “celebrating” death (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/pamela-gerloff/the-psychology-of-revenge_b_856184.html).
To Lorrie’s point below, I do understand the feeling of just being served and bin Laden no longer posing a threat to the US. But to be high-fiving strangers on the street and chanting like our team just won the Super Bowl? I don’t understand that.