Dear Chautauqua Community:
Your hearts are made sad and your minds bewildered by the events yesterday at Fort Hood, Texas. During my military duty between 2003-2005, I served in a Soldier Readiness Center at Fort Dix, New Jersey and saw, as a Chaplain, thousands of soldiers as they processed for deployment.
The emotions ranged from anxiety and fear to excitement and pride. As Soldiers expressed their range of feelings and dealt with the stress of leaving, we never once saw actions as horrible as yesterday's event. I share this to reaffirm to you that most people, including military personnel, handle their situations with maturity and skill. In other words, please do not stereotype our soldiers as anything other than human beings doing their best to look out for one another under extraordinary pressures.
I say that because of comments I have heard and fear a revival of the notion that all veterans are mad like "Rambo"; however, the most damaging comment I heard was from a radio entertainer/commentator seeking to insinuate the shooter's religion was a factor in his madness. I deplore this fear-mongering and wish to express, now as a participant in an "organized religion", my own personal dismay at such public comments.
How odd I did not hear this commentator suggest the alleged shooter's vocational choice was the cause of his behavior. I know I really need not remind any of us that stereotypes and insinuations only add to the climate of stress and mistrust and can create the climate for
violence. I am going to assume enough suffered yesterday without adding to it. And I assume, too, we do not have enough information to draw any conclusions as to what motivations prompted this terrible and sad moment.
What can you do? In your own way, offer words of intercession and petition to the creator of the universe that there be healing for all victims. Ask, too, that violence in all its forms, overt and covert, direct and subtle, end as compassion and hope become sufficient to overcome fear and hatred. Challenge any comment that demeans any human because of their faith or non-faith orientation and ensure that this nation do all it can to bind up the wounded bodies and hearts of those it asks to serve and have been so injured.
As a soldier, I was never personally tempted to kill and never wanted to, but I have been tempted to despair and have experienced spiritual darkness of sufficient depth to want my enemy destroyed. Pray for grace and peace for those whose journey takes them to such a place and offer to them a hand of friendship that promises we can all reach the beloved community.