Saturday 7 November 2009

Thought Picnic: The Americe First Principle in Fort Hood

No more a news junkie

But for the guest living with me whose presence helps my recuperation no end, I would not have seen anything on television since I returned from hospital about a month ago.

In fact, of all the television I have watched, most has been DVDs or a Friday night Dutch entertainment programme; I have suddenly become a non-news junkie.

I am no more interested in channel-hopping news channels seeking opinion and fulminating analysis of the events of the day.

If the breaking news is that I have won the lottery, eventually, the letter confirming the win will arrive in the post and we can do what needs to be done. One has to ask, what use is breaking news if you are not locked into a hypertensive stock market where your blood pressure undecided vacillates with the market, every minute is lived on the verge of a heart attack.

Even the diehard would soon realise the heart and mind does need respite from the pestilence of news and wars that surround us, we cannot find inner peace if we continue to bombard ourselves with the negative that masquerades as news.

Late on Fort Hood

It is this situation of deserved withdrawal that left me late on the trail of the Fort Hood killings; I refuse to give that situation any volatile labels because there is an underlying issue well below the rhetoric and public pronouncements that needs review.

The man joined what some people have called a family, the family of the United States Army and he was resident amongst his folk in the broadest sense of what family means.

As a psychiatrist, one would suppose his functions include “ministering” to the mental needs of siblings in that family who for all intends and purposes are trained to attack, kill and overrun the enemy, the survival instinct being alive and sometimes this ignores the way war and conflict changes a man into something yet to find adequate description apart from a fighting machine.

This man on certain aspects of merit had been honoured in the family, he had risen to the rank of major, so he was no idiot, he earned that rank, deserved that rank and was respected in that rank.

Accentuating his difference

However, there were other issues, the man happened to be Muslim, not that it should matter, I have close family members who are Muslim and they are no different from me, they are respectable, honest, diligent and worthy people whom I honour and treat with the utmost respect and regard.

Apparently, in his family, that is to say the US Army, this man found little acceptance, was disrespected and treated “badly”, one would assume. At least, this treatment within the family did lead to him wanting to leave the US Army but some hard-headed disciplinarian within the family thought little of considering this request and I am sorry, that person or persons are just as culpable in this act not by commission but by omission.

The family dynamic broke

The family is supposed to be a harmonious setting but if one of the siblings is ostracised for whatever reason and the parents do not act to make that sibling inclusively loved and cared for as to feel equal and accepted as equal in the family, it is a recipe of great disaster.

The superiority of the other siblings that belittles the abilities and the status of ostracised sibling usually ends up later in exchanged roles where the ostracised suddenly holds all the aces and everyone else is left begging for something they no more have the ability to keep or protect.

For all the opprobrium the Fort Hood killings would generate about religion, people of foreign descent and many other things that excite bigotry in the name of commentary and condemning a supposedly dastardly act, the problem started long before the man made Major, it started when they saw he looked different and did different things – nobody dealt with it then and now we have a monster. No excuse for the act itself but it calls for a deep soul-searching in the US Army hierarchy.

The family dynamic can only thrive when everyone is helped to feel part of the family, that responsibility first falls on those in charge like parents and then on the siblings who hopefully have good examples to follow from parents and good leadership.

American first no matter how different

It is a tragedy, no less but the triggers were pulled long before the guns downed the many unfortunate victims of a dysfunctional family situation that was allowed to thrive to the point of disaster.

The family needs to come together and ensure everyone really feels in and involved without ostracism, that would take longer than an inquiry, it would be a paradigm shift and complete change of mindset because the diversity of America would soon be fully reflected in every establishment and there would be no place to differentiate between people apart from the binding fact that you are all Americans first and Americans always.

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