Fort Hood an American Army base in Killeen, Texas, April 2, 2014 is a day that will not be soon forgotten. Three people died and 16 others wounded before the gunman, Ivan Lopez, committed suicide. This seems to be the pattern with these types of atrocities. One need not look to far back in the past to remember the Columbine High School shootings in 1997 to see the same M.O. Shooters walk in, open fire, kill as many as they can before turning their guns on themselves. Is there a connection between the Ft. Hood tragedy and the school shootings that all have had to endure in times past? It brings in to question what could have triggered someone to do such a thing? What are the signs, if any, did they alert to those around them be it vocally, written, or silent gestures? Was their life of circumstances so dire that they believed the misconception that the only way out was to go on a murderous rampage before committing suicide leaving questions unanswered before they were asked?
What about those around them? Were they too busy or blind to see and hear the silent cry for help or maybe they were too self-absorbed to give a hoot? Sadly, the world will never truly know why Army Specialist Ivan A Lopez turned on his countrymen unless Lopez left a final “Goodbye” letter for those being left behind. However with that bit of information, the question will still remain a mystery to the full reason as to “Why?” The world has seen interviews on television with former armed service veterans who still suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by which they relive their war experience mostly in their dreams. However some experience this even while they are awake. A car backfires, triggering them to fall to the ground and cover their heads as they believe a bomb just exploded. They might even hear someone speak in the language of their former captors when they were a POW that causes them to curl up in the fetal position and cry like a baby for fear that they are about to be tortured for information. So the world asks why and stands in lifeless expression as the cold realization hits them that yet another shooting has hit the front pages.
The connection between the Ft. Hood tragedy and school shootings where bullets flew around like a swarm of angry bees, could very well lie in this common thread: Fear, hopelessness, anger, depression, and a misconstrued ideal of who they are. In other words, they believed in a lie about themselves that someone spoke negatively over them. In relation to fear, it is possible these people felt they were going to lose something so they panicked. Looking at a situation that appears hopeless definitely drains one physically, mentally, and emotionally. So instead of fight, Lopez turned to flight. Anger.
In each of these cases is it possible they saw something or something negative happened to them and while initially stuffing it inside, they did not realize that wounded emotion was slowly suffocating them and building up inside of them a boiling point to explode like Mount Vesuvius? Lopez wrote in a post, “I have lost my inner peace and am full of hatred. I think the devil will take me.”
Lopez was taking many different medications to treat psychiatric issues such ranging from depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances. It was also noted that Lopez was very angry because the Army did not allow Lopez to attend his mother’s funeral. Could this be the connection to the tragedy that drove Lopez to shoot fellow enlisted men? Is this the connection with school killings in days gone by?
What about their emotional well-being? Depression, like these others, drains a person into wanting to do nothing because the weight on their shoulders is too much for them to bear. So where do they turn? Some turn to alcohol and drugs to deaden their pain while clouding their thinking. Others turn to violence believing that after their rage has been spent, reality will return to normal and life will go on just the way they remember it, before they committed their crime. The reality of it all, is the fact that they will either spend the rest of their days in prison or they will be killed during the conflict. Either scenario is detrimental to all involved.
The fact of the matter something could have been done to prevent these tragedies: They could have called out for help. The Fort Hood tragedy could have been prevented but the failure lay in Lopezs refusal to do what needed to be done instead of taking the coward’s way out and fire upon people with guns.
The world must not minimize their loved-ones pain. However all in all, Lopez and others like him chose the easy way out instead of reaching out with both of their hands in humility asking to be lifted up and embraced without fear of being rejected. Yes, this would have been the high road laced with hurdles to jump over and hurdles to jump though, and mountains to climb sometimes on their hands and knees; but in the end, they would come out stronger and the tie that binds them to their family and friend, would become unbreakable. God forbid that more slayings like the Fort Hood tragedy and past school shootings happen again! Let the world then, with eyes wide open, keep a watch for those around them for any sign that seems to be out of the ordinary and embrace those who need help and not forsake them.
By John Thomas