The tragedy at Ft. Hood is indeed a tragedy. But it pales in comparison to a tragedy that occurs with more force and regularity than a damaged psychologists violent outbursts. On average, every month, 10 people commit suicide at Ft. Hood. We can be assured that if a Muslim American soldier killed 10 people a month at a US Military facility people would begin to wonder about the ability of Ft. Hood to take care of and honor the troops.
Indeed, it is a well known fact that an incredibly large percentage of soldiers sent to war return with lifelong psychological damage. An overwhelming majority of our homeless are Veterans and suffer from an inability to overcome their injured minds.
War kills and wounds a much larger number of human beings than the number of those lost in battle. As Christians, it is important that we not lose an opportunity for witness and also judgement in this. When we send ourselves off to war, we are failing to do a number of things.
- We have not properly calculated the real possibility that a Christian soldier sent off to fight against people of other nations may very well end up fighting and killing Christians in these other nations. In this situation we have fully subsumed our service to Christ to our service to a finite, temporal and abstract power; in our case, the Nation State of the USA.
- We have failed to realize in our own lives the Cross and sufferings of Christ. Putting our perceived rights and welfare to such a momentous height that we are willing to kill for them.
- As Americans, we are actually failing to honor the troops. For one, if we really honored them we would make sure they got the attention that they need to overcome their injuries. We also would recognize that this cycle doesn’t end. To honor our injured and dead we might begin to ask about alternative ways of reconciliation.
Even in my own Church this sin is perpetuated. Compare two prayers. One a Thanksgiving from the ’79 BCP, the other the prayer of St. Polycarp before his martyrdom:
“O Judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant that we may not rest until all the people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. This we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen” – (emphasis mine)
” O Lord God Almighty, Father of your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received knowledge of you, the God of angels and powers and of all creation, and of the whole race of the righteous who live in your presence, I bless you because you have considered me worthy of this day and hour, so that I might receive a place among the number of the martyrs in the cup of your Christ, to the resurrection to the life of the age, both of soul and body, in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. May I be received among them in your presence today, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, as you have prepared and revealed beforehand, and have now accomplished, you who are the undeceiving and true God. For this reason, indeed for all things, I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you, through the eternal and heavenly high priest, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, through whom be glory to you, with him and the Holy Spirit, both now and for the ages to come. Amen” -(trans. Holmes ’07 – emphasis mine)
Reflecting perhaps a “National-Cathedral-theology” we see in the Prayer Book the need to “accept the disciplines” of “true freedom.” In St. Polycarp we see that “accepting the disciplines of true freedom” mean something incredibly different and diametrically opposed to the former. Is it perhaps because we do not witness directly the testimony of the Blessed Martyrs? Then blessed are they where they are privilaged enough to see such a testimony.