From Osama Bin Laden to the Pope to Wills & Kate: A Bit of a Ramble

I was going to do a blog post yesterday (Monday), like I usually do.
But I was so hyped up, I decided to take a day to reflect.

Fair warning: today’s message will be a bit of a ramble, and not
the typical type of post you may expect from me.

Are you willing to bear with me? Good! I knew I could count on
you to listen – or actuall, to read.

Like many Americans and citizens of the world, I was thrilled to
hear of the death of Osama Bin Laden. And the fact that it came at
the hands of American armed forces – Navy Seals, to be exact –
backed by the diligent work of intelligence analysts and

Finally, justice was served. And in dramatic fashion. It was a
very good day not just for America, but for all the civilized

While operationally not as important in recent years, Bin Laden
was still the icon and the focal point for the wave of
fundamentalist, jihadist-oriented beliefs and terrorist tactics
we have increasingly endured over the past three decades. I say
three decades because the heinous acts of terrorism associated
with these evil, backwards, mysogynistic groups really started
back in the 1980s.

Important note: these groups claim to be anti-western, anti-modern,
and doing all this for the cause of Allah and the Muslim people.

In reality, they have killed more Muslims than Americans or
Westerners over the years, and continue to do so today.

Really, does this make sense to anyone? It certainly doesn’t to
the Muslim friends and colleagues I know.

One reason I feel compelled to write about this today is that,
in my “other career”, I’ve been involved in the fight against
terrorism, albeit in an indirect way.

You see, through my work, I help financial institutions develop
systems to detect and prevent the financing of terrorism, as
well as the money laundering and fraud that help support and
fund narco-terrorism, the illegal drug trade, human trafficking
and slavery, illegal arms sales, and other reprehensible

The anti-money laundering, anti-fraud, and counter-terrorist
financing programs that financial institutions have put into
place help protect us in three principal ways: (1) they help
protect us from fraud; (2) they help protect our financial
system from being hijacked by criminal elements; and
(3) their surveillance results in important leads being
passed on to law enforcement.

I also feel compelled to write about this because I was in
Manhattan on September 11th. I was north of Ground Zero and
not in any danger. Nevertheless, I will never forget that day.
And I know many whose lives were affected – irrevocably – by
the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and
Flight 93.

Now, on to the good news. Actually a couple pieces of good

I found it interesting that several quite significant events
have been juxtaposed against each other these past several

First, Pope John Paul II was beatified.

Now, I’m not a Catholic, although I am a Christian. And I
know more than a few Catholics – including my partner and
the love of my life – who refer to themselves as “reformed”
or “recovering” Catholics.

And I know that JP II wasn’t always on top of things. He
was reluctant to move church doctrine forward so it has
more utility in modern life. I don’t understand why women
can’t be priests. Most disgusting: I don’t think anyone
can ever forgive the church for their handling of the
priest sex abuse scandals.

But….I always liked JP II. Here was a guy who understood
the importance of principles, and who, like Ronald Reagan
(another one of my flawed but favorite heroes) stood up
consistently for his principles..which in turn allowed him
to stand up against communism and totalitarianism.

Next, let’s travel from Rome to London…and my favorite
story of the week, the Royal Wedding.

All week long, I poked fun at my British friends and
colleagues about the wedding. I told them that Americans
were more into the thing than the English people. They sort
of agreed.

Then, Friday, there they were: hundreds of thousands standing
along the procession route, and outside at Buckingham Palace…
and billions more of us watching on TV.

Full disclosure: Yes, I too woke up very early Friday
morning to watch the royal nuptials…as well as make
fun of the hats.

And wasn’t it worth it? How cool to see all the pomp and
circumstance. How heart warming to see those two young people
get married. Wills was so cute, he looked so nervous.
Kate was beatiful and poised. They did a marvelous job in
front of the entire world.

We wish them all the best and hope their marriage can endure
the relentless attention.

Ok, let’s bring all this back around, so I can try to
convey a key point I’d like to share with you.

First off, watching the royal wedding was affirming. Here
was a ritual and a process of perpetuating an important
western institution – the British monarchy – that has existed
for a thousand years. And that young couple will provide
the renewal that the institution needs.

Second, seeing one of the most significant religious figures
of the 20th century honored was also affirming.

Third, we have witnessed an event of supreme justice: a
terrorist icon leading an evil cause and a fight against
western civilization — one which has resulted in the deaths
of thousands of innocent men, women and children all over
the world — killed at the hands of the one country he hated

Two affirming events juxtaposed against an act of justice.

To me, these are signs that, even when our institutions get
a little faded, a little frayed, a little dented around the
edges, we can still believe. Because they endure.

And the future looks clearer and brighter.

Not sure any of this made sense but…thanks for reading,
my friend.

You Can Do It!


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Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2011