DayBreaks for 11/19/19: The National Rush to Therapy
From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:
Ft. Hood, Texas. Sadly, that name is now in the archives along with Columbine, Lockerbie, Auschwitz (though this was a much larger scale) and others. It is a name that will “live in infamy” to borrow a phrase from Franklin D. Roosevelt. On a beautiful fall day, blood was spilled mixing its color with the leaves. Thirteen died (as of this writing) and many more were wounded. It was a tragedy that should not have happened – just as Cain should not have slain Abel, David should not have had Uriah killed, and Saul should not have killed Stephen. Yet human tragedy seems to be the legacy of the human race.
On November 9, 2009, David Brooks, writing in the New York Times in an article titled “A Rush to Therapy”, analyzed the events and news coverage in the aftermath of Ft. Hood. I have no interest in sitting in judgment on Maj. Hasan – I am more than willing to leave the judging to God as He alone is qualified to sit in judgment. I don’t have that right, but He does. What was interesting about this article was Brooks’ focus on how people have tried to explain away the man’s behavior. He was stressed out from hearing about others stresses (secondary stress syndrome – we even have a name for it). As a pastor, I can understand that – I’ve been there before and most assuredly will be again. Others suggested that he acted out of a fear of going to Afghanistan into a war zone (then why did he create one of his own?) Others said it was “pre-traumatic stress syndrome” – anticipation of the events of the foreseeable future that cause him to snap like a dry twig (yet couldn’t we blame everything on such a “syndrome” if we want to?)
I want to be fair and honest about this, so I now tread carefully. I don’t know what was the “straw that broke the camel’s back,” but it seems to me that all the efforts to explain it away, to reassure us as to why it happened, have missed a very crucial point: the existence of evil. Major Hasan was not different from anyone you meet on the street. Everyone has struggles and they’re happy to tell you about them if you’ll stop long enough to listen. Everyone has things they dread in the future (aging, loss of income, health issues, fear of death or abandonment, fear of conflict.) But not everyone responds as Major Hasan did. He chose to act evilly. Why did he kill and wound so many? Because of evil in the heart. So it has always been – and so it will always be until we let God create new hearts within us.
On the same day as Brooks’ article came out, it was announced that the Beltway Sniper (John Allen Mohammad) would not receive clemency and would be executed that same evening at 9:00 p.m.. Something inside of me “cheered” at that news. After all, I wanted to see “justice” done to this man who held much of the eastern seaboard hostage to a murderous terror spree some years back. What beat in his heart? Evil. I recall people trying to excuse his behavior, too. I have no doubt that he suffered disappointments, possibly abuse. Yet that didn’t make him a murderer. It was his choice about how to respond to those things that made him a murderer. He could have chosen to go another way – to become a counselor or social worker who helps people who have experienced the things he did, but that wasn’t what he chose. He chose to act evilly.
But then God puts a check in my heart. “How have you responded to evil, Galen?” Well, Lord, there have certainly been times when I talked about someone who hurt me behind their back. I’ve thought thoughts about them that should never be thought – let alone spoken. I may have intentionally wronged someone or acted in an evil manner. But those, too, were choices. And where do they come from? From the same heart that drove Hasan or the Beltway Sniper to do what they did. Perhaps my actions weren’t as evil in the eyes of society, but they are still evil.
Enough of the evil. Enough of denying its existence in the hearts of others – and in our own hearts. Let us all pray that God creates that new heart within us that David pled for when he recognized his own need: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation and renew a right spirit within me. (Ps. 51:10)
PRAYER: Create in us clean hearts, Father and a spirit that is fashioned after Your Own. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>