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May 03, 2011 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2011-05-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

"Bin Laden is dead.
Al-Qaida is ot"
- CIA director Leon Panetta, as reported yesterday by the
Huffington Post.
After Osama

Tuesday, May 3, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily com


Osama bin Laden is dead, but
I'm not exactly sure what that
means to me. As I listened to the
uproar outside my window last
night it seemed that campus had a
much clearer idea of what it meant
to them. Passersby erupted in
cheers and chants of "U.S.A." and
the only thing I really knew was
that I felt nothing like they did. My
first reaction was it was a shame
we didn't capture him, but accord-
ing to Obama, "justice has been
done". What have we achieved by
killing Osama bin Laden - and
has justice really been served?
When I saw the reports of jubi-
lation on the White House lawn
and other places across the coun-
try, I immediately felt ashamed.
Death may even be too kind of a
punishment for bin Laden, but
what are we doing celebrating his
death? A May 2 Michigan Daily
article told of Unviersity students
singing"Hail to the Victors" at the
White House. I cannot even begin
to address the stupidity and lack
of correlation between Michigan
and bin Laden, unless the Navy
Seal who plugged him was an
alum. Does our Wolverine hubris
know no bounds? His death is a
symbol not of success or justice
but of vengeance. The celebra-
tions immediately reminded me
of those of the Fallujah residents
who murdered the four Blackwa-
ter contractors and the rapture of
the Somalians who paraded the
bodies of the Blackhawk pilots in
There is a famous quote from
Confucius that says, "Before you
embark on a journey of revenge,
dig two graves" - except in the
case of bin Laden we should have
dug a few hundred thousand. I
hardly think that by killing one
person we have achieved an equi-
table response to the devastating
terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 or
the other bombings bin Laden is
responsible for. And if equity is
what we're looking for, the U.S.
has surpassed the attacks 100-

fold. Hundreds of thousands of
Iraqi civilians have died since the
invasion of Iraq and more Ameri-
can soldiers have died in Afghani-
stan and Iraq than the amount of
Americans killed on Sept. 11 The
world is probably a better place
without bin Laden, but it has also
paid a heavy price for his death. I
can't say it has been worth it. Our
arrogance and our brazen quest to
achieve vengeance have left the
world scarred, and with his death,
little has changed. Al-Qaida still
exists and terrorism is still a real
And what are we thinking bury-
ing him in the ocean? The New
York Times reported that it's Mus-
lim tradition to bury a body within
24 hours of its death, but that can-
not be the reason we dumped him
in the Arabian Sea. We invaded
Afghanistan and Iraq, bombed
Pakistan with drone strikes, shot
bin Laden in the head and sud-
denly we care about honoring his
carcass in the Muslim tradition?
His version of Islam is a perver-
sion anyway - maybe we should
have done him a favdr and given
him a good Christian burial. Not
to mention that this sea burial is
ammo for conspiracy theorists,
an easy opportunity for people to
claim that bin Laden is actually
still alive. We could have at least
waited to decide what to do with
his body before we sent it to Davy
Jones' Locker.
Osama bin Laden is dead, but
the world is still full of threats
home and abroad. A little restraint
in our celebrations might also
have preserved what little politi-
cal clout the U.S. has left. Rather
than rejoicing in elation, the U.S.
should be reflecting on the past 10
years. We should collect ourselves
- and when we realize that our
situation hasn't changed, we need
to make sure we proceed with a
better direction in the future.
Teddy Papes is the
editorial page editor.

Amy Chua, known as the
"Tiger Mom", scared many well-
to-do parents by claiming that
they're soft for
letting their
kids have slum-
ber parties.
David Brooks, "
a journalist for
The New York
Times, claims
the contrary -
- Amy Chua ERIK
is soft for let- TORENBERG
ting her kids
hide behind the -
comfort of their
math homework.
"Managing status rivalries,
negotiating group dynamics,
understanding social norms, nav-
igating the distinction between
self and group - these and other
social tests impose cognitive
demands that blow away any
intense tutoring session or class
at Yale," Brooks writes in a Jan.
17 column called "Amy Chau Is a
While Brooks may argue that a
college party is more cognitively
demanding than a night study-
ing in the library, this isn't to say
a night at Rick's is a bastion for
intellectual growth but that social
intelligence -is the essence of per-
sonal and professional success.
We recognize people who are
socially astute - who's "with it".
Although it may take many forms,
these people succeed in the fol-
lowing areas:
First, they understand them-
selves. We can sense when a per-
son's identity is defined through
approval from others and when
a person hasn't done enough self-
exploration to understand their
biological and cultural disposi-
tions - what subjects and activi-
ties they naturally thrive in and
what people they are naturally
compatible with. Socially intelli-
gent people typically understand

their deep motivations and how
their upbringing has helped in
constructing their personal nar-
As Brooks writes, "It's much
easier to change your envi-
ronment than to change your
insides." The socially intelligent
person coordinates his environ-
ment with his inclinations. He
matches what he does and who
he spends his time with what he's
good at and who he has fulfilling
connections with, regardless of
geography. And so he puts him-
self in an environment, physically
and emotionally, that pushes him
to be the best version of himself -
because to be yourself is just stu-
pid (what if you're a jerk?).
Our ideal individual also
understands relationships are
everything. He understands the
subtleties of building and sus-
taining relationships and on what
foundations those connections
rest. He puts himself in situations
where these connections are
most likely to occur, and avoids
situations where they won't.
Each person's emotional nour-
ishment is different. Some are
naturally more gregarious, able
to befriend many people while
maintaining their individuality.
Others are more reserved, prefer-
ring more time with fewer people.
All that matters is that our social-
ly skilled person is genuine. Peo-
ple trust him. They respect him.
And ideally, he inspires them.
But that's just my view. Brooks
used his own vocabularyto deter-
mine a social skill set, but his
overarching implication is that
human capital should not be mea-
sured solely on IQ or standardized
tests. For purposes of building
any team or organization, per-
haps companies and schools will
think of other ways to evaluate its
applicants. Perhaps in the future
moms will drop their kids off
at metis practice. (According to

Brooks, metis is "the ability to see
patterns in the world and derive a
gist from complex situations.") Or
a job interview will focus on test-
ing one's equipoise - or, accord-
ing to Brooks, "the ability to
serenely monitor the movements
of one's own mind and correct for
biases and shortcomings."
These skills typically receive
little attention, unless in some
vague, trite way. Imagine a pro-
spective college student asking a
tour guide how he can become a
better listener. It's often assumed
we learn these things on our own,
and there's a reason for that.
Can you imagine a minor in self-
exploration or a program in lead-
Success is also
based on social
Well, as it turns out, the latter
exists. The Barger Leadership
Institute within Organization
Studies is leading some exciting
experiments and plans to teach
a course on leadership next fall.
They're not the first to believe
that these skills can be taught.
Numerous people have been try-
ing to break these skills down
into separate parts and teach
them, but have failed to focus
on technique and succeeded in
building habits to internalize
such skills.
Perhaps I'll explore the how
in another article. Like Brooks,
I'm interested in this subject not
because it naturally comes easy
to me, but because it doesn't.
Eric Torenberg can be
reached at erikto@umich.edu.

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