That it may please thee the inspire is, in our several callings, to do thy work which thou givest us to do with singleness of heart as thy servants, and for the common good . . . (The Great Litany, BCP p. 151)
On November 5, 2009, a mass murder took place at For Hood, near Killeen, Texas. Nidal Malik Hasan, a U.S. Army major and psychiatrist, fatally shot 13 people and injured more than 30 others.
Since that dark November day, so many other acts of violence have plagued our land, Sandy Hook, the Navy Yard, school killings too numerous to mention here.
But the 2009 Fort Hood shootings have a particularly cruel irony: a man sworn to do no harm as a physician became a mass murderer. I wonder if this doctor, whose calling went so terribly astray might himself have been saved – along with the many that were killed and maimed – if he had found the blessing of supportive and honest friends, who could have helped him see the truth, rather than the ideological fanatics by whom he was so deeply influenced, people who located all evil in their common enemy. How things might have been different if he had somehow gained a sense of himself as an individual, apart from this group and its expectations. I wish that it had been so. I with a heart that passionate and devoted could have spent itself into old age, serving Allah in peace, with the education and skill that were God’s gracious gifts to him, instead of bringing premature death on innocent people through a murderous blaze of hatred and death.
So many of the other perpetrators are, after the fact, described as loners, as people who cut themselves off from others. These are at the extremes, but I wish that all of us had the support we need, the blunt honesty of a caring friend when we need it, the private space for the family and marital and personal intimacies we need. I pray for this, for you and for me. I work for it in my life, and hope that you will, too.