While the nation continues to mourn over the senseless Fort Hood tragedy last week,
While the nation continues to mourn over the senseless Fort Hood tragedy last week, let us be cautious about jumping to at least one conclusion. Thirteen families grieve the deaths of their soldier loved ones tragically killed on homeland soil, and one family grieves the yet inexplicable actions of a loved soldier who “snapped” into that killer. But exacerbating the post-mortem analysis is the fact that the alleged killer was not only an Army psychiatrist, but a Muslim, soon to be deployed to Afghanistan. Was it Nidal Hasan’s faith that prompted his actions?
Some say Yes. Why else would the killer reportedly have been shouting, “Allahu Akbar” (God is great!), as he sprayed his deadly fire? While I am not defending this American Muslim soldier’s betrayal and actions, I am, as a member of a minority faith community myself, concerned with how quickly elements of the public and press can raise insinuations against a misunderstood minority religion. How quickly those who share the same minority faith convictions can become suspect in the eyes of the larger community. President Obama, in his eulogy this week at the Fort Hood memorial service for the victims, carefully threaded the needle upon which public opinion seems to teeter: “‘No faith justifies these murderous and craven acts. No just and loving god looks upon them with favor. For what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice—in this world, and in the next’” (South Bend Tribune 11-11-09).
And what would be our just response to Muslims, whether neighbors or strangers to us? To live by Jesus’ Golden Rule, whereby we treat them with the same fairness and understanding we would want to be treated with were another David Koresh of Waco infamy to rise up and claim kinship with our own community of faith. I.e., the vast majority of any community of faith is a God-devoted, faith-filled part of our human family. And while our faith understandings differ and our perspectives about God/Allah are not always alike, nevertheless we can and must affirm the common ties of faith in God, compassion to all, and hope born of the belief that the Holy Book of God promises a better day for his earth children. If tragedies such as this one could become the catalyst for our own intentional (though halting) efforts to reach out to the Muslims we may yet meet and come to know, imagine the good that God himself might yet bring.
“For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!” (Romans 5:15) It’s that “how much more” that will yet “overflow to the many” that must spur us on to love even as God does, no matter which grieving family we belong to.