A member of the United States armed forces went crazy and killed sixteen innocent Afghan women and children. We search for meaning concerning this act and offer explanations such as too many deployments, too much stress, family issues arising from spouse being absent, watching friends get wounded or die, and never knowing who will decide to end your life. The explanations are valid ones, after all, we as a society sent these young men and women into the inferno known as Iraq or Afghanistan. One doubts if any member of the armed forces, let alone, member of Congress, let alone an ordinary citizen can offer a logical explanation why we remain in that far off land.
One wonders why we never pose these issues when the murderer is a Muslim member of the Taliban or al-Qaeda? We assume if they exhibit a murderous rage it is because they are members of a religion which encourages such behaviors. We assume the problem is their society, their organizations, their education, and never that they might be suffering from mental stress.
A few weeks ago, after two members of the Army were killed in the follow up to burning Korans, US General John Allen sent the following message to his troops. ”There will be moments like this when you’re searching for the meaning of loss, when your emotions are governed by anger and a desire to strike back. Now is not the time for revenge,now is the time to look deep inside your souls, remember your mission, remember your discipline, remember who you are.”
Perhaps the problem is a sergeant remembered who he is.