Saturday, November 7, 2009

Fort Hood shootings

Why would an officer in the army start spraying bullets at his own comrades? For me this is the key question in the story of the Fort Hood killings. What was the motive?

Finding the truth is not easy. Already people with ideological positions are sharing their views. The alleged shooter, Nidal Malik Hasan was stressed from caring for victims at Walter Reade Medical Center, he had an Islamist political ideology, he was trying to get out of his upcoming deployment in Afghanistan. I agree with President Obama’s statement yesterday that it is important not to jump to conclusions until all the facts are known.

But let’s face it—it’s very hard not to speculate.

I can’t help but look at this story through the lens of faith and a Reformed understanding of the human condition. When Nidal Malik Hasan was born no one lifted him up and said this baby will turn out to be a killer. When he came into the world the people around him celebrated the gift of new life.

Over time something went wrong in Hasan’s life—just as something went wrong in the lives of other mass murderers. I believe that all of us are born with the possibility of creating tremendous good and perpetuating terrible evil. For some reason evil won out in Hasan’s life.

What's confounding is the very day that Hasan allegedly murdered 13 people,he gave away his furniture to a woman who lived in his apartment building. Sure we could speculate that Hasan thought he was going to die in the shootings, so he gave away his stuff. But a death-wish doesn't have to prompt an act of generosity.

The human spirit is complicated.

I would like to learn the key moments in Hasan’s life that turned him into a killer. Just as I would like to learn the key moments in the lives of the other mass murderers. Since Columbine these incidents are way too frequent.

We in the faith community have a role to create a culture that resists violence. If Martin Luther King and Mahattma Ghandi taught us anything it’s that violence perpetuates itself. I’m not trying to make a statement about war or guns, I’m just pointing out that repeated exposure to violence does something to us—our hearts become corroded.

Until we create a culture that doesn’t glorify violence, we will continue to grieve such evil.

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