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Monday, November 9, 2009

Personal Wars

Amazing to read and discuss about this situation with the shooting at Fort Hood in Texas.  General American sentiment seems to dismiss the reality of how difficult it must be to be a Muslim in the US army today.  Statements of the prejudicial treatment he received – keyed car, 'camel jockey get out', diapers in his car with claims it should be his headdress?  This is a man that decided to go into the military – for whatever reasons – and should have been afforded the respect of that commitment.  It also needs to be said that he committed at a time when the military didn't seem so solely focused on issues that could be seen to fall on religious or ideological lines as could be seen today.

These wars, and American society as a whole, have been and are showing Islam as a culprit – as these prejudicial acts show.  There are people that viewed his religious situation as a problem, and this I believe is where the problem comes from.  If the military was more 'open minded' (yes, I did just say that), perhaps a Muslim man would have felt more welcome in this institution.  But the military doesn't care about individuals or their religion, sexual preference, etc.  It just wants to create soldiers willing to do what the country's leaders deem to be necessary.  Yet this inflexibility and the cultural hostility that is growing in America made a well qualified man feel uncomfortable enough to lash out and kill.  And all the official statements can be made that anyone wants, but we should all know full well that the military is stretched, looking for numbers, and was not going to be trying to release a Arab-American psychiatrist at a time like today, or that the people he spoke to from within this military would even pretend to be sympathetic to his concerns.  The bottom line is they don't care, and they are taught not to care – An Army of One.  

The fact of the matter is that today we have another front on the war-on-terror opening up.  This man was a part of 'us', part of America, yet he was pushed out and ended up 'fighting' in  virtual cohesion with the 'other side'.  And the victims, the dead soldiers, are not any different than others from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, they are casualties of this war.  People need to recognize that these wars are bigger than tanks and troops on the ground, and each person in the world fights their part of it every day.  It is about ideology and culture – both of which are wholly individual and subjective – and our individual actions to every person we see.  In provoking an attack like this through verbal provocation or subtle antagonizing messages we are fighting a battle.  Which side do your actions place you on?  Do you need to be on a side?

There are no cookie cutters and no past victories to learn from in this type of warfare.  In a world where the individual is solely taught to focus on themselves, yet while the system simultaneously tries to thoroughly group and categorize us all away, it is very difficult to factor in individuals and their variances.  This man was a person with ideas, beliefs, and issues to be heard.  Yet no one was listening with any intent on truly helping or including him and/or his concerns into the system.  This type of front has been around forever yet seems to never be realized by people.  It must be fought by us all, all the time.   The key to it is to realize just as any war, their will be both attacks and retaliations, and their will be casualties.  Enough individuals fired insults, and enough institutional rigidities and insensitivities where thrown around that a retaliation was made – and one that cost people their lives.  The person that keyed his car, the diaper person, the camel jockey person, are wholly responsible by being the ones that fired the first shots, thus causing this man's retaliated.  So lets think about where we stand in this 'war' every time we open our mouths.  Do you want to fight for one 'side' or the other, or do you want to be a conscientious objector and/or peacemaker?

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  And despite what we were taught as kids, while sticks and stones may break bones, words can break PEOPLE...  and there is no retaliation proportional or equivalent to this type of damage – a broken wo/man has no limits as to what they are capable of.  So think, every time you say something, A, will I break something, and B, am I ready for the retaliation if something does break?

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