Two weeks from now we will gather with family and friends for Thanksgiving, a peculiar American tradition, peculiar because it is unique to our country and its history. As we have done many times before, we will do so against the backdrop of a tragic evil. Looming in the backs of our minds will be images of Fort Hood and the innocent men and women who were slain.
I must admit that this crime has raised deeper feelings of anger and resentment in me than most. Perhaps it is because the crime was committed by one who wore the uniform of our country and was perpetrated against young men and women who had volunteered to place their lives in harms way for the rest of us. Perhaps it is because he was a trained psychiatrist who was supposed to identify and prevent this kind of insanity. Or perhaps it is because it could reflect a radical religious element that somehow celebrates innocent bloodshed and slaughter as something heroic. If it is the latter, we must remind ourselves it is the twisted tenets of this radical element that we are to abhor and hate, not the person or the people.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I have decided to focus on those who are truly heroic rather than the perpetrator of this crime. I will focus on Kimberly Munley, the Fort Hood police officer who sought out the killer and stood her ground exchanging gunfire with him to end the slaughter. I will focus upon nineteen year old Amber Bahr from Wisconsin who, after being shot herself helped drag her buddies to safety and tore up her jacket as a makeshift tourniquet to save a fellow soldier. These women are truly heroic because their first thoughts were for the safety and welfare of others. They are heroic because they were willing to lay down their lives that others might live. I will focus upon the thirteen who gave their lives, the twenty-nine who were wounded and the thousands, both military and civilian, whose bravery and unselfish sacrifice go unknown and unreported every day, those who choose goodness and grace in obscure places without thought of reward.
I will choose to believe the Bible’s promise that goodness and grace ultimately overcome hatred and violence. I will believe this because God has not only declared it to be true; He has demonstrated it by the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. As the Scripture says, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know … what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” (Ephesians 1:18-21). Because of this, I will seek to follow His instruction, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:20). And, when we gather with family and friends in a couple of weeks, I will give thanks.