Friday, November 06, 2009

Heart Goes Out to the Survivors

I found out this evening about the shootings at Fort Hood in Killeen, TX. My heart goes out to the survivors and the victims of this tragedy. The news reports are too preliminary to draw conclusions and my initial assessment was likely dead wrong as to the reason for the crime. I am sorry that this incident has happened and I hope that it doesn't happen again. I thank Peter Coates, a fellow blogger and friend, (Ft. Hood, OMG!) for alerting me. He actually lived there in the 1970s. I also hope that the Army takes steps to discover why this happened and to make sure that if a similar incident happens again, that the loss of life is minimized. One can't stop madmen from taking lives. All one can do is minimize the effects of their killing spree. I'm guessing that some sort of weapons ban will be placed on military bases where only Military Policemen can carry weapons in most places. It's either that, or let everyone carry weapons. Or perhaps, nothing will be done and this incident will be seen as an aberration.

Consider The Gates of Paradise:

A soldier named Nobushige came to Hakuin, and asked: "Is there really a paradise and a hell?"
"Who are you?" inquired Hakuin.
"I am a samurai," the warrior replied.
"You, a soldier!" exclaimed Hakuin. "What kind of ruler would have you as his guard? Your face looks like that of a beggar."
Nobushige became so angry that he began to draw his sword, but Hakuin continued: "So you have a sword! Your weapon is probably much too dull to cut off my head."
As Nobushige drew his sword Hakuin remarked: "Here open the gates of hell!"
At these words the samurai, perceiving the master's discipline, sheathed his sword and bowed.
"Here open the gates of paradise," said Hakuin.

or Killing:

Gasan instructed his adherents one day: "Those who speak against killing and who desire to spare the lives of all conscious beings are right. It is good to protect even animals and insects. But what about those persons who kill time, what about those who are destroying wealth, and those who destroy political economy? We should not overlook them. Furthermore, what of the one who preaches without enlightenment? He is killing Buddhism."

Deaths, real and symbolic, occur around us all the time, but most go unremarked and unnoticed. More people died today driving their cars than died of gunfire, yet no mention of those common deaths in the media. More people starved to death than died in cars or from gunshot wounds. Which is the greater tragedy that could have been prevented?

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Hi John

Thanks for the refence and link to my blog.

The Fort Hood massacre is of course a tragedy. As you say this didn't cause the greatest loss of life that day - But tragedy is often measured in terms of:
- political sensitivity,
- amplified by "close to homeness"
- and rarity.

The murder of those troops (who serve the Government and people) automatically means an attack on the US Government so the reaction and remembrance involves the huge resources of the US government.

9/11 even more so.


Until he went temporarily insane and started his berserk killing spree and proved that he was human, Major Hasan was likely seen as a repairman who kept the government issued property working smoothly by the Army bureaucracy. The incident is more akin to a mechanic going nuts and destroying combat drones from the dehumanized institutional perspective. From the religious and typical human perspective, what he did was horrible. On a more spiritual level even though it is labeled "bad", it might do much good because it will force the Army to recognize that human beings are not machines, that psychological suffering is in many ways worse than physical suffering because the sufferer does not know how to turn off his or her mind's "pain" and anguish. Mental healthcare is still rather primitive even in the United States and disparaged, and soldiers are supposed to suck it up even though the Army knows that psychological trauma is quite common in combat veterans, but is likely in institutional denial, and has been since WWII. But then, the Army has an insane purpose, to kill or coerce foreign people who disagree with its goals and win the game called "war". As Samuel Fuller pointed out in his WWII movie, "The Big Red One", soldiers don't murder, they kill. Once the paper is signed and the war is over, then killing becomes murder again.

The only logical way to prevent psychological trauma is remove people from the battlefield or stop killing other people. To stop killing people kind of eliminates the Army's underlying purpose and many soldiers' job descriptions.

Why are we rebuilding other countries using the Army and military force? I thought that the day the Twin Towers fell that we would use the CIA and Special Forces to hunt the people that did it down like the dogs they were. Instead, the strategy we adopted is one of killing gnats with a sledgehammer to use a friend's cliche. We are using a powerful, but blunt instrument to affect a few terrorists. How insane is that strategy? SF, spooks, and money were the way to go, not invade this country or invade that country. Afghanistan fell to a CIA plan, but Iraq was a disaster for everyone, but the defense contractors. Free people are all hurt in one way or another by this insane foreign policy strategy of the United States. If we want peace using our current methodology, then we might as well use neutron bombs and kill everyone in the affected areas because only the peace of death will stop the fighting in Afghanistan or Pakistan. But that option is too convenient, too cheap, and too "psychotic" and horrible to contemplate. It better to let the local people sort it out through genocide and terror even if it means that more people would die from that violence than would die from the neutron bombs. But two thousand years ago, killing an entire country and its population was acceptable. Just ask the Romans. We can't ask the Carthaginians because the Romans killed them all.

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