Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Tragedy at Fort Hood

I wanted to let this story sit, sit and simmer a bit before I considered it. I was working Thursday and only even knew about it through the news alert The New York Times sent to my email, which I saw when I checked my Blackberry late in the day. Speculation was running rampant--only the general's news conference Thursday night began to put the rumors to rest.

As the story has continued to mature, we have heard some heroic stories. Police now do not wait to challenge a gunman in a public place now, but confront him as soon as possible. KCPD did that in the Ward Parkway shooting a number of years ago, and the police at Fort Hood followed the same tactic. Within minutes, Sargent Kimberly Munley was on the scene, and engaged the shooter, Nidal Hasan in a gun battle almost immediately upon her arrival. In 10 minutes it was over. Hasan was wounded and unable to continue his shooting. God only knows how many more lives would have been lost and how many more wounded there would have been without the courage and ability of Sargent Munley.

Other tales have emerged of soldiers able to escape, then returning, even while bullets were still flying, to tend to the wounded. The hospitals treating the wounded put out word they needed blood and potential donors flocked in. Soldiers ripped their own uniforms to bandage and care for the wounded.

The question has come to motive for this gunman. He is American born of Jordanian heritage, 39 years old and single. He has been in the Army since graduating from High School. He is a Muslim and active in his faith. He was posted at Walter Reed prior to moving to Fort Hood, where he has been working as a psychiatrist. He has never been to a combat zone, but was being assigned to Afghanistan and was to serve there shortly.

(OK, I am having a computer moment. My WiFi source decided to make me re-sign in. The last autosave did not get the complete entry. When I went to publish, it published the last time the autosave had gone all the way through. Two paragraphs that had taken a long time to write were gone. And I don't think I can reproduce them...ARGH!)

Maybe that's because I was trying to be too PC and not direct enough. One, we may never know the motives of Hasad. His imminent deployment? PTSD from hearing about other people's PTSD? He is a Muslim terrorist wanting to kill the Infidels and go be with the 72 virgins? Only God and Dr. Hasad know. Do we need to worry about the Muslims among us becoming terrorists? I don't think we can know who might go this way. We end up having to watch everybody. After all, did we see Tim McVay coming? And, yes, we need to lighten the load on our military. Too many tours for soldiers are creating very real mental health issues.

Now, one last thing. The bravery, the selflessness, the skill. Good human traits brought to a situation that highlighted the most evil deeds that a person can do. God's grace is at it again. His Common restraining grace. The grace He has allowed us to have, even though we are fallen. It, along with the story of God's Son coming to live among us, and a part of God, His Holy Spirit dwelling with us even now, makes this kind of event something, not something understandable, or tolerable, but something that can be taken on, something that can be dealt with, without robbing God of his main and overwhelming characteristic. His love and care for us.

The theology of suffering is not easy theology to do. There is a risk of sounding cheesey and unrealistic. But it must be said: God is with us, even when the forces of nature and the wills of men show their fallen and sinful side. Count on it.

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