Tragic news this morning about a young American soldier who left his base in Afghanistan, walked into the nearby village and went on a shooting rampage killing civilians, children among them. A news report mentioned that the soldier had suffered a breakdown, and we have to ask ourselves into what borderland have we, by sending him to war, pushed this young man? Into what borderland of despair and loss have we propelled the families of this Afghan village? What no man’s land has the family of the soldier now entered, trying to understand what their son or brother or sweetheart has just done? What further violence will this act breed? And is there any way back from the inhuman land of war?
In researching a chapter for War & Its Trauma: Expanding the Circle of Healing (due out in August) I kept coming up against the seemingly endless repercussions of war — and my research focused very narrowly on the physically wounded American warriors and their families. This latest tragedy drives home the truth that the effects of war, like polluted air and poisonous water, spread across all boundaries.