Wednesday, November 11, 2009

American terrorism

A child's drawing
It is a recurring phenomenon in these United States:  some deranged individual surpasses his threshold of psychological pain, arms himself to the teeth, takes himself to some place where he can find a large group of unarmed people, and starts shooting.

In the past week, there have been three such incidents.
  • The first was, of course, the incident that occurred on November 5 at Fort Hood, Texas.  Major Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire at a soldier readiness center, killing 13 and wounding dozens.

  • The next occurred on the following day, November 6, in Orlando, Florida.  A disgruntled former employee, Jason Rodriguez, entered the offices of an engineering firm and shot 6 people, one of them fatally.

  • The most recent incident occurred just yesterday, November 10, right here in Tualatin, Oregon.  Robert Beiser entered a medical lab and opened fire with a high-powered rifle, killing his ex-wife and wounding two others, before turning the gun on himself.
The first of these incidents is the one that the media has really focused on, which is somewhat justified, since it resulted in the most casualties.  But how many similar incidents have there been in the last 10 years?  How long will it be until there is another such incident?  If we face the facts, we cannot deny it:  these horrific events occur several times per year here in these United States.

Of course, we are all shocked and saddened.  But, as the casualty count rises, our shock is not quite as severe as it was for the previous such incident.

No one knows why these horrors occur, much less what to do about them.  There is a certain element of our society that instinctively seeks out a scapegoat, and that element, of course, is focusing on the Fort Hood incident, and pointing to "Islamic extremists" as the root of the problem.  Their solution is predictable:  oppress Muslims, fear the "other."  But the truth is this:  the "others" that they fear are we!

Over the years, I've seen news reports of suicide bombings in other countries, in Israel, in Iraq, in Afghanistan.  And I was moved to pity when I thought of the everyday people in those lands and wondered how it must be for them to have to live under those kinds of conditions. 

Well, this week, I've had it brought home to me:  those places are no different than these United States.  We are those people living under those impossible conditions.  One world, one people, indeed!

I wonder if we'll ever have the courage, in this bitterly divided country (thank you, Junior Bush), to have a real discussion about this.  I wonder if we'll ever have the courage to try to seek a solution that doesn't blame anyone, a solution that heals.

Brace yourselves, folks.  There is going to be more.

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