vendredi, novembre 06, 2009

Ft: Hood where the wild things

If we told our children what war was like -- and that they might come home minus part of themself -- would we have an army at all?

It's hard to understand what it feels like to be an Iraqi citizen whose son or nephew has just been reduced to a corpse and a pool of blood at a police station. I've often wondered: if the toll we had to pay here in American was so high, if we had to deal with roadside bombs and the attack on our solders -- would we be so willing to send our sons and daughters over to die for an ideal, however close we hold it to holy?

Whether you support the war for moral and religious and political reasons, or you find it totally wrong for the same, it seems to me that it is both realistic and honorable to try to count the cost.

The tragedy at Ft. Hood brings us one appalling step closer to the realities for an Iraqi or an Afghan citizen. It also impels those who want to think about what's going on to wonder -- what did Major Hasan hear?

Nothing, nothing, nothing, can justify the slaughter of the innocent. Nothing Hasan can tell the military men and women who question him (if he lives) will make what he allegedly did anything most of us would recognize as the act of a sane human being.

In a sense, Ft. Hood was a test of the American dream of gun ownership -- a society where pretty much everyone had one, and rarely was it used in fury. This horror, which changed that probably illusory sense of safety, will mark that post for living memory.

We'll pray for the dead, and those who have to face the empty chair at the dinner table, the hole in bed, the silence at Thanksgiving. But it seems to me that this is an occasion to ask about the nightmarish conditions our soldiers face -- that probably change many of them forever.

Hasan is a psychiatrist. While he wasn't deployed, he had heard a lot from those lucky enough to come back. That doesn't excuse mass murder. Nor may it turn out to have anything to do with his alleged reasons. But it may have contributed to his rabid wish not to walk through the hell that can be military service in Afghanistan or Iraq.

If you believe in something strongly enough to believe it is worth that kind of sacrifice, go and experience it. And if you aren't willing to do that, find someone who can tell you what it is really like.

Then decide if it is still worth the ongoing cost -- not solely to the families of the dead, but to our souls.

Mine. Yours.

Even if you don't believe that we have one.

Hasan and his alleged crimes should not be the reason we make this examination of conscience. But it might be a way to honor the dead -- and their blood spilled for us.

Here's a link to a New York Times blog post on roughly the same topic by a Vietnam Vet.

1 commentaire:

Allen a dit…

I don't think it was stress that caused the gunman to go on his rampage. From what I'm reading it looks like he had similar beliefs to the 9/11 hi-jackers. I don't think stress caused them to attack America either--just an evil, twisted strain of their religion.