I Pray for the Victims of War


I was in the kitchen using all the might I could muster to scrub a counter that didn't need cleaning. I had to do something physical while I waited for the fury and the disappointment to dissipate. I was so mad at my dad.

My dad and I never argue, but a news report about the Fort Hood incident had us at each other's throats. I had been serving him dinner when a reporter on TV said that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, was no longer intubated. My dad made an obscene noise, shook his head, and said: "God is very just, I'm sure He won't let that murderer get out of that bed."

I didn't like the remark. "That's a horrible thing to say papi, you don't even know why the man did what he did."

My dad gave me a look filled with indignation. "Who cares why. He is obviously a crazy religious fanatic and we'll be better off if he is dies."

"How do you know he is a 'religious fanatic'? He probably had a nervous breakdown. Who knows what was going through that poor man's mind at the moment he pulled the trigger..."

My dad didn't let me finish. "I like that you always try to find good in everything and everyone, but there is no goodness in this. Anyone who gets up and shoot a whole bunch of innocent people is obviously evil."

"I'm not trying to justify the man papi, all I'm saying is that we can't be so quick to judge. You weren't at Walter Reed for years, trying to get into the brains of the boys who had lost half their minds in the war. You don't know what it feels like to stand in front of a 19-year-old kid who is missing his legs and one eye, trying to find a way to tell him that the nightmares might never go away. That does things to people...!"

"But... that's what he was trained for chiquita (Spanish for little one)." My dad didn't sound so sure anymore.

"One is trained to handle situations as they are happening; to adapt and overcome in order to get the job done, but at the end of it all, the memories... the nightmares... they stay. One has to deal with them. Alone. Some people are strong--or lucky--and survive. Others lose their heads trying to stay normal, but end up doing unspeakable things." I looked away to keep my dad from seeing the tears that were staring to form in my eyes. I scrubbed and scrubbed that counter, trying to erase stains that weren't there.

My dad didn't say anything else. He just got up and left. I looked at the table and felt bad because he didn't finish his dinner.

I went to my room, laid on my bed and let the tears flow freely. Soon a very unsettling thought came to mind: Am I defending a man who killed 13 people! I glanced at the statue of a kid wearing military uniform and holding a Dominican flag. It was a present from the mother of a blind Soldier who I helped while I worked as a military case manager between the National Naval Medical Center and Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The blind Soldier was not a pleasant man; he was arrogant and ill spoken, but he was on of us, so I helped anyway. Plus, I always told myself that I would be mad at the world too, if I had been shot in the head and lost my eyesight as a result.

One day the Soldier was particularly rude to me. He called me every name in the book and a few that weren't. I waited for him to spit out all his venom, then went to my office to think of the best way to inform him that his behavior was unacceptable.

His mother caught up to me a few minutes later. "I have something for you."

"Oh..." I was kind of lost for words. "Thanks ma'am, but you didn't have to."

She extended the little statue. "Please take this, so you know someone appreciates all you've done for my boy."

I accepted the gift. "Thanks for gesture, but I must tell you that you don't need to give me anything. Every service member will show the same kindness to your child ma'am. He is one of us, and we take care of our own."

That memory helped me understand why I felt like I had to give Maj. Hasan the benefit of a doubt. I wasn't defending a killer, I was showing solidarity to a service member who saw the same horrors I had seen. Who knows... he might end up being the murderous 'religious fanatic' my dad spoke of, but until I know for sure, I'll pray for his soul. And I will continue praying even if it is proved that his actions were deliberate, for the soul of someone who commits such a heinous act needs all the prayer the world has to offer.


Today, and always, I pray for the victims of war: the ones killed, the ones doing the killing, and the ones sitting at home looking for someone to blame.

20 comments:

  1. You defended a flawed human being, and no matter what, your dad will probably come round to what you were saying and be very proud of what you stand for.

    In the current climate, the fact that this man has a Muslim name has probably played into some very unfortunate hands. It will be used to show how evil Islam "is", and how evil Muslims "can" be. You know your dad isn't a bigot, but it is so easy to fall under the media/government's illusion that Muslims out to get us. And that's no different from what ALL fundies say about EVERYONE!

    I think you are probably right that he lost the plot. I don't really think that we are ever going to find out the real truth though.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I too pray! Thank you for this post. If we could all reach out to one another...the world would be a different place indeed!
    Hugs
    SueAnn

    ReplyDelete
  3. MouseDemo, thanks for your kind words. My dad is a wonderful person, but we are all influenced by the masses at one time or another. And I agree with you, we might never know what really happened to Maj. Hasan or why he did such a thing.

    Slommer, thanks for praying. I believe in my heart that if we all take a moment to hope, instead of pointing fingers, "the world be a different place indeed!!!"

    ReplyDelete
  4. My husband and I both had this very argument the day that shooting happened. We live in TX, and not far from where that all happened. My husband also was quick to jump on the "religious terrorist" bandwagon. Believing the media hype, and he still is. I was saddened by the media and my husband not waiting to hear this man's side of the story, and it really won't matter now. He'll be held up by the media as a Muslim extremist and other Muslims in the military will pay the price for what he did, even though it may NOT be terrorism.

    I took psych in college and I remember well what my professor my freshman year told me. He said, "If you students choose this as your line of work, you'll need a shrink for yourself. Otherwise you will be a ticking timebomb because of having to listen to the horrors of other people's lives day in and day out."

    This man listened to the horrors of the lives of other soliders, who had been where he was scheduled to go. And yet, no one can understand how as a psych, that could take a VERY big toll on a person. How many psychs commit suicide every year? We never hear how many, but they do it, and a lot.

    It might be terrorism, but it also might not be. And I can't stand it when people rush to judgement and refuse to listen to both sides of an argument. Not condoning what he did, but also not condoning the "witch hunt". If this man had been Christian........we wouldn't be hearing about terrorism.

    ReplyDelete
  5. That's my point exactly, if Maj. Hasan had not being Muslim, "we wouldn't be hearing about terrorism", we would probably be talking about a man who lost his mind.

    And do I ever understand what you mean about being in the human services field. I remembered what my family said when I decided to leave the field, they told me "but that's what you love". And I do love it indeed, but I didn't want to go home to my children (when I have them) every night thinking about how many patients had killed themselves that month... I know that there are many who are successful at that kind of work, but they are gifted enough to detach themselves from work. I just don't know how to do that. I'm an emotional person and I tend to suffer for others, just as hard as I suffer for myself.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Dang Magaly! What a tough conversation. I see both sides. but I have difficulty supporting the shooter. I believe he needs many things, including forgiveness, but regardless of his reasons, he took precious innocent lives and devastated many families. There will be justice for Hasan. It won't be a justice you or I ever see, but I guarantee, the Higher Power in charge will issue it perfectly when the appropriate time comes.

    Papi sounds like someone I'd like very much - the way I like you! You know, we don't always agree with the people closest to us on all the important issues. But to be surrounded by someone with a passionate point of view is a good thing. Just as yours is. I hope this gets smoothed over soon. Your energies will be much more productive when they are back on a positive track.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you for your compassion. As said above, we will probably never hear the why of his actions. His name, his religion has already condemned him in this country. If it turns out he just snapped (as people do, have done), we will probably never hear because that doesn't make good press. Until I know for certain that this guy was a sleeper, getting his training, joining the army, investing a good portion of his life just so he could shoot up an army medical facility, I'll assume that the pressures of his job just became too much for his personality and he broke.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This was a beautiful post Magaly, I love how honest you are with your words to your father. It is a terrible thing that happened in Fort Hood but even worse for people to jump to conclusions because of the man's faith and name. If this man was a Christian, we would not be hearing about Terrorism, but a man who lost it or was afraid. It is just wrong to condemn someone for terrorism without hearing the whole story.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Blessings to all souls involved. It's a nasty, complicated situation: but all things for their reasons and in their times, I suppose.

    I bet that this tricky conversation with your papi will bring y'all even closer together.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I understand what you're saying. Absolutely.
    Sandi

    ReplyDelete
  11. I tend to fall in line with you on this topic. So many are so quick to judge after reading nothing but a blurb in the paper, or watching a politically motivated, fear-mongering news station.

    Nothing is fair or good about this situation...but I still feel we must not judge this man without having facts as to why.

    Although I hate to say it, I think the sound of his name has lit a fire under people who think this is religious terrorism. It makes me sad.

    Regardless, I'm sure your papi is giving serious thought to the words you said to him.

    )O(
    boo

    ReplyDelete
  12. I don't think this is a bad thing! Try thinking about it from a professional point of view. It sounds like the negative feelings were only due to emotions running high and on this subject understandably so! Maybe it would help to rewrite the event from a more objective standpoint if that's possible. You're a super lady and I hate to hear you feeling so out of sorts. ((((Magaly))))

    ReplyDelete
  13. If he were not of Muslim origin, everyone would be upset, talking about "Oh my Goodness, why did he do it? We must have missed something, this is our fault as well!"

    But since he is of Muslim origin, it is much easier to say that he is one sick fanatic puppy who killed good people in the name of a "god of hate".

    Or at least in German media it sounds something like this.

    I don't know if that guy was a fanatic, and honestly - I don't care. Facing all the horrors people in these lines of work have to face, many of them turn to something - drugs, belief, cynism. This man maybe returned to the religion of his origin, and I do not know if he was in contact with constructive or destructive people. But I would surely not go blaming his religion for what he did, that is just too easy.

    (I still think you shouldn't go and take your rage, nervous breakdown or whatsoever out on other people, but I am aware that sometimes there may seem to be no other way out, so... )

    ReplyDelete
  14. The way I look at it, I have no right to decide who "burns in hell" and who doesn't. At least, that's what my bible teaches me. It's for God to pass judgment and me to keep my nose out of it. I'm perfectly okay with that. Sure, I'd like to see something done to this man that would hurt him just as much as he had hurt others. I'd be lying if I said that wasn't true. But that's also why I fall back on my faith during times like these to better guide my feelings.

    And of course, as fate would have it, I get my summons for jury duty today. Damn. So much for my impartial stance.

    ReplyDelete
  15. A lot of things happen in this world that we do not comprehend because they seem unthinkable. I cried when that guard at the Holocaust was killed by that white supremacist. I couldn't comprehend how someone that old could have so much hate in themselves to snuff the life of someone they didn't even know. Having compassion for people even for those who have done wrong is a beautiful thing. It doesn't mean you are condoning their actions. I remember reading in one of my novels years ago a quote that said "When we lose compassion even for our enemies, we become no better than our enemies."

    ReplyDelete
  16. Lost his mind, crazy muslim, poor man who saw too many horrors and snapped.
    None of these is without warning signs that you are approaching the edge of a brink from which you cannot return. I love how in this day and age there has to be a reason for everything and no longer does anyone accept personal responsibility for anything. It's never I did these things but I did these things because fill in the blank with the most convenient and up to date scape goat.
    I don't think it's fair to say theres a reason for what he did.
    I don't think a person who could do something like that or move towards being able to do something like that without reaching out has a soul to pray for.
    I think something ugly and dark crawled inside him a long time ago at his invitation and just recently did it finally express itself.
    I say we should do all we can to help restore this man until he is fully recovered just so as a nation we can have the satisfaction of putting thirteen bullets into his body.
    Saving the last one for his head.
    People who do these kinds of things are no longer people, human, souls to be saved.
    They forfeit that when they do these kinds of things and for them there isn't a redemption to be had or a second chance to ask for.
    It sounds ugly and brutal but I don't think there is a way to put a positive spin on this without failing to grasp the enormous amount of absolute filth and waste this man created by not being able to recognize his failing mental health and reach out to someone.
    I'd volunteer to pull the trigger myself if it were possible and I wouldn't hesitate for a second.
    I'd know I wasn't killing another human being.
    I'd be ridding the world of something evil.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I think I fall somewhere in the middle of some of the stronger opinions. On the one hand I do feel compassion for him and want to understand why he did this for many, many reasons. On the other hand I do think that there are some things a person can do that are so heinous they simply need to leave this world for the good of all the rest of us.

    Hmm watch my blog for a post dedicated to going into more detail on my way of thinking on this subject sometime soon!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I believe in good and evil, I actually believe that they both need to exist in order to keep the world in balance. I know that there are some horrible people out there, I just wish that some of us weren't so quick to condemn.

    Maybe I'm sympathetic because I see the people who look at my Pentacle and immediately assume that I "bite chicken heads off and drink their blood for Satanic rituals" (no joke). I guess that I have been misjudged so many times, that I'm more willing than most to give a fellow a chance...

    ReplyDelete
  19. I think I fall somewhere in the middle of some of the stronger opinions. On the one hand I do feel compassion for him and want to understand why he did this for many, many reasons. On the other hand I do think that there are some things a person can do that are so heinous they simply need to leave this world for the good of all the rest of us.

    Hmm watch my blog for a post dedicated to going into more detail on my way of thinking on this subject sometime soon!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Lost his mind, crazy muslim, poor man who saw too many horrors and snapped.
    None of these is without warning signs that you are approaching the edge of a brink from which you cannot return. I love how in this day and age there has to be a reason for everything and no longer does anyone accept personal responsibility for anything. It's never I did these things but I did these things because fill in the blank with the most convenient and up to date scape goat.
    I don't think it's fair to say theres a reason for what he did.
    I don't think a person who could do something like that or move towards being able to do something like that without reaching out has a soul to pray for.
    I think something ugly and dark crawled inside him a long time ago at his invitation and just recently did it finally express itself.
    I say we should do all we can to help restore this man until he is fully recovered just so as a nation we can have the satisfaction of putting thirteen bullets into his body.
    Saving the last one for his head.
    People who do these kinds of things are no longer people, human, souls to be saved.
    They forfeit that when they do these kinds of things and for them there isn't a redemption to be had or a second chance to ask for.
    It sounds ugly and brutal but I don't think there is a way to put a positive spin on this without failing to grasp the enormous amount of absolute filth and waste this man created by not being able to recognize his failing mental health and reach out to someone.
    I'd volunteer to pull the trigger myself if it were possible and I wouldn't hesitate for a second.
    I'd know I wasn't killing another human being.
    I'd be ridding the world of something evil.

    ReplyDelete