Many are focused on the Afghan tragedy and the incredible reality that a soldier was involved. But our men and women in uniform reflect the generation and national cuture of our present moment. As we grieve innocent children and families killed in Afghanistan, think of the women around the world in the military–fellow soldiers for whom the military instills honor, respect, trust–who are raped by other soldiers wearing the same uniform–and often meet cover-ups or resistance to reporting by command authority. Look at the hometown news; unexplained incidents of killing innocent individuals, women, families, students, and random victims fill the news space.
That this ethos, of which Congress member Giffords was a victim, as were soldiers at Ft. Hood, and the 85 youth in Norway killed on retreat, is not confined to the military or a fixed number of tours or duty, but is pervasive and defies our current insights, which treats each case as singular, althrough as a whole they form a distrubing and widely distributed pattern. We have no understanding of its causes. We cite only associations and tangent experiences as causes, yet our understanding falls far short.
All that we know in our denial is extended violence, from sexual assaults to shootings, is now being widely employed by individuals in situations involving a nexus of unresolved external and internal conflicts, out of control impulses and delusional thinking, institutional misses, and a puzzled, worried public.